YouTube Says Viewers Are Spending Less Time Watching Conspiracy Videos but Many Still Do

YouTube said it was pushing users toward videos from more-reliable news sources

HIGHLIGHTS
  • The announcement follows a change in YouTube’s algorithm
  • However, YouTube didn’t release the underlying figures
  • It didn’t say whether it had reduced the times the videos are clicked on

YouTube said Tuesday its policies and enforcement helped reduce the length of time viewers watch videos that advance conspiracies and other debunked theories, as the leading video site responded to criticism regarding its failure to police such content. The Google-owned company said Tuesday it had pared by 70 percent the average time US viewers spend watching videos that it deems “borderline” content, such as those peddling miracle medical cures or flat-earth conspiracy theories. The announcement follows a change in YouTube’s algorithm announced in January seeking to limit how often its software recommended videos espousing fringe views.

But in a blog post Tuesday, the company didn’t release the underlying figures, such as how much time viewers still spend watching the videos. It didn’t say whether it had reduced the times the videos are clicked on in the first place or provide global figures.

Many viewers of such content subscribe to channels that regularly peddle it. Ivy Choi, a Google spokeswoman, declined to comment beyond the blog post.

“There will always be content on YouTube that brushes up against our policies, but doesn’t quite cross the line,” YouTube said in the blog post. “We’ve been working to raise authoritative voices on YouTube and reduce the spread of borderline content and harmful misinformation.”