Online video-sharing sites and their policies on scientific issues
Author: Joachim Allgaier, Hochschule Fulda, Germany
Format: Individual paper
YouTube now has almost 2,7 billion users worldwide. It is one of the most popular of various online video-sharing platforms, that have become influential information sources for many people around the world. This also concerns scientific, technological and science-related topics such as COVID-19, vaccination, climate change, artificial intelligence, biotechnology and many others. The potential of online videos for public science and technology communication is in fact huge. However, since many online-video platforms do not have gatekeeping and quality control mechanisms in place they are also accused of being spreaders of misinformation, disinformation and hostile conspiracy theories related to science, technology and research. In this talk some of the policies that online social media platforms have set up as potential answers to such accusations, are reviewed, and the available evidence on whether they are successful or not is assessed. Here the routes taken sometimes vary considerably and platformspecific problems will be presented and discussed critically. Only very few of the platforms have specific policies installed. In the cases where community rules or guidelines are formulated these are often very vague and general, and often it is nontransparent when and what content or creators are sanctioned. A particularly interesting example is YouTube’s policy for demonetizing content that denies anthropogenic climate change. Here only very specific statements concerning anthropogenic climate change denial are affected while other statements that oppose climate science are not affected by this specific policy. This development points to the necessity that science communication research must also develop an understanding of anti-science discourses in order to assist effective potential ways of policing these in popular online social media platforms.