July 11, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The world’s largest video platform announced this week that it’s becoming the latest tech giant to attempt to define what constitutes “trusted journalis[m]” for its users, in this case by spending money to promote “authoritative” news sources.
Search giant Google, which owns YouTube, announced Monday that it plans to spend $25 million on a broad-ranging initiative to support news publishers worldwide in the various technical aspects of publishing, help news organizations build “sustainable video operations” in 20 global markets, and form a working group with various news organizations and experts.
The working group’s stated objective will be to help “develop new product features, improve the news experience on YouTube, and tackle emerging challenges.” Its membership will be expanded in the coming weeks, but early members include the Brazil-based Jovem Pan News, India Today, and the left-wing Vox Media.
“By directly funding news content which it will then deliberately privilege on its platform, YouTube, like other Silicon Valley companies, is moving away from its former status as a neutral platform,” Breitbart’s Allum Bokhari writes. He notes that the news follows Google’s earlier $300 million pledge to fund “quality journalism,” which was similarly vague on how “quality” is determined.
Distrust also comes from numerous accusations that YouTube, like other leading social media platforms and tech companies, censors conservative content and biases its ostensibly neutral content review processes to benefit liberals.
According to an April report from the conservative Media Research Center, YouTube has either deleted or demonetized videos from conservative columnist Michelle Malkin, pro-Donald Trump video bloggers Diamond and Silk, and several pro-gun channels, as well as entirely terminated the accounts of the conservative blog Legal Insurrection and foreign policy commentator Pamela Geller.
Notably, even several leading figures in the mainstream media have cautioned against the current trend of ostensibly-neutral platforms judging acceptable and reliable content for their users. In May, a coalition of media outlets including the New York Times, USA Today, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and more condemned Facebook’s new practice of treating ads for political news and analysis the same as ads for political advocacy.
“Democracy depends in part on unbounded competition between different journalistic perspectives and the clash of different judgements and opinions,” New York Times CEO Mark Thompson said in a June speech on journalism and free speech. “History suggests that mainstream news organizations frequently get it right, but also that, not infrequently, it is the outliers who should be listened to,” because public assumptions on who to trust are not always correct.