Alphabet Inc.'s (GOOGL) YouTube is changing the way it promotes videos in a move to stave off giving credibility to conspiracy theorists and others promoting "borderline" objectionable entertainment, the business said Friday.
Using both machine learning and people who will evaluate videos, YouTube will target a tiny fraction of the entertainment streamed on its website that "comes close to-but doesn't quite cross the line of-violating our Community Guidelines."
"To that end," said YouTube in a blog post Friday, "we'll begin reducing recommendations of borderline content and content that could misinform users in harmful ways-such as videos promoting a phony miracle cure for a serious illness, claiming the earth is flat, or making blatantly false claims about historic events like 9/11."
Work will continue through the year to "reduce the spread" of such videos that make up less than a percent of the material on its website, said YouTube.
But the company will not censor the videos, it will just make them harder to find.
"To be clear, this will only affect recommendations of what videos to watch, not whether a video is available on YouTube. As always, people can still access all videos that comply with our Community Guidelines and, when relevant, these videos may appear in recommendations for channel subscribers and in search results. We think this change strikes a balance between maintaining a platform for free speech and living up to our responsibility to users."
Only a small number of videos will be affected at first, said YouTube, but gradually more will be added.
YouTube has been under fire for allowing videos such as those by Alex Jones that promote conspiracies. Jones' videos were eventually cut from YouTube last year, but the Washington Post found in December that YouTube was still streaming and recommending "hateful, conspiratorial videos, allowing racists, anti-Semites and proponents of other extremist views to use the platform as an online library for spreading their ideas."