Incident 305: YouTube’s Recommendation Algorithm Allegedly Promoted Climate Misinformation Content

Description: YouTube’s recommendation system and its focus on views and watched time were alleged by an advocacy group to have driven people towards climate denial and misinformation videos.
Alleged: YouTube developed and deployed an AI system, which harmed YouTube users and YouTube climate-skeptic users.

Suggested citation format

Pownall, Charlie. (2019-02-01) Incident Number 305. in Lam, K. (ed.) Artificial Intelligence Incident Database. Responsible AI Collaborative.

Incident Stats

Incident ID
305
Report Count
2
Incident Date
2019-02-01
Editors
Khoa Lam

Tools

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Incident Reports

Why is YouTube Broadcasting Climate Misinformation to Millions?

Executive Summary

YouTube’s tremendous reach - and control over the content on its site - is unprecedented in media history. People around the globe spend a billion hours on YouTube every day, and the platform has two billion monthly active…

YouTube faces criticism over climate misinformation

A report this month by the activist group Avaaz alleges YouTube is "driving millions of people to watch climate misinformation" daily.

What they found: One finding is that when users search for "global warming," 16% of the top 100 "related …

Variants

A "variant" is an incident that shares the same causative factors, produces similar harms, and involves the same intelligent systems as a known AI incident. Rather than index variants as entirely separate incidents, we list variations of incidents under the first similar incident submitted to the database. Unlike other submission types to the incident database, variants are not required to have reporting in evidence external to the Incident Database. Learn more from the research paper.