TECH NEWS – YouTube is playing a major role in convincing some crazy people that the Earth is flat, research suggests.
A study questioned people at flat earth conferences and discovered most cited videos viewed on the site as a key influence. They were persuaded by videos which claimed to amass evidence supporting the Earth was not a spherical planet.YouTube needs to do a better job of safeguarding visitors get accurate information alongside such videos, said the researcher behind the study.
The algorithms the site used to guide people to topics they might be interested in made it easy to “end up down the rabbit hole” of misinformation, said Prof Landrum.
“Believing the Earth is flat is of itself is not necessarily harmful, but it comes packaged with distrust in institutions and authority more generally,” she added.
The study also involved interviews with 30 attendees at two conferences.
The questioning exposed YouTube had advocated the flat earth videos after attendees had watched other clips at home about conspiracy theories.
While some said they only watched the videos to criticise them, still they were won over by the arguments being presented. The results from Prof Landrum’s study were shown at the annual meeting of the Association for the Advancement of Science this weekend.
Prof Landrum said there was a need for scientists and science advocates to produce their own YouTube videos that answered and debunked the claims of flat earthers and conspiracy theorists.
“The only tool we have to battle misinformation is to try and overwhelm it with better information,” said Prof Landrum.
Source: The Guardian