How the Philippine election shows YouTube can rewrite the past

There has been a lot of disinformation in history and this is one of the biggest problems in the Philippines. This was never completely denied, saying the atrocities during martial law never happened.There are more extreme statements, such as The “Marcos Gold” Myth. We know their wealth comes from stealing from the Filipino people and public funds, but this allows them to say [they didn’t steal].

Many journalists and historians were surprised by the level of propaganda and disinformation on YouTube. But my research shows that there were similar videos even in early 2011, and the trend accelerated after 2016. These false claims appeared even as students searched YouTube for Philippine history.

Is this what you tagged on YouTube?

us [Gaw and coauthor Cheryll Soriano] To conduct this research in 2020, we spoke with YouTube executives. We said, “Here’s a list of videos and channels we’ve flagged as containing historical disinformation and denialism.” They said they’d check and get back to us, but they never did. The people they sent to the Philippines were not really the ones who had a say in drafting content moderation policies.

The real question is how YouTube defines misinformation — a very Western approach. In the Philippines, many political divisions are not ideological, but patronage-based. It’s a narrative about what kind of elite family you support, and who you endorse as a result.

[Ivy Choi, a spokesperson for YouTube, says that its hate speech policy and a number of its election misinformation policies are applicable globally, “and take into account cultural context and nuance.” She says YouTube regularly reviews and updates its policies, and “when developing our policies, we consult with internal and outside experts around the globe, and take their feedback into account.”]

Did you see any videos removed by YouTube?

No, this is actually the most frustrating part. Early in the election season, they said, “We’re going to be really serious about making sure the election is fair and free.” But the part where they actually take action on the content, on the platform, really doesn’t happen, doesn’t make sense. Even the historical disinformation I flagged two years ago is still there. In fact, those 500,000 subscribers are now 2 million because they haven’t been taken down. As a result, these channels and videos have seen exponential growth because they are not influenced by the platform.

If the video is popular, they can get brand sponsorship. And because they have a lot of subscribers and they’re talking about a very prominent topic, there’s a lot of perspective. It’s paid for by YouTube – they kind of pay for disinformation.

[YouTube’s Ivy Choi says that it removes offensive content “as quickly as possible” and that it removed more than 48,000 videos in the Philippines during Q4 2021 for violating its Community Guidelines. YouTube says it is reviewing the specific channels flagged by WIRED, but that it reviews all of the channels in its YouTube’s partner program and removes those that don’t comply with its policies.]

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