Look out for YouTube’s info panels on controversial topics before watching videos

YouTube announced last night that it’ll show information panels in Hindi and English, powered by fact-checkers on controversial topics in India. The company said that these panels will appear on top of the search results, and help users identify misinformation, and avoid videos propagating it.

The platform provides an easy way to learn about things you hear on the news, like tensions between India and Pakistan, and the Momo challenge. But you should know that the information dispensed by some of these videos may not be factually accurate. The company explained that this was the reason behind its new initiative:

As part of our ongoing efforts to build a better news experience on YouTube, we are expanding our information panels to bring fact checks from eligible publishers to YouTube. We are launching this feature in India and plan to roll this out in more countries as time goes on.

Here’s how it works: if you look for videos based on a controversial topic, you will see a panel above your search results displaying information related to the claim. In an example below, you can see a claim on ‘viruses in paracetamol’ debunked by one of YouTube’s fact-checking partners.

It’s important to note that YouTube won’t be checking or removing individual videos related to the topic, and it’s possible that not every topic will be fact-checked when you search for them. Also, you should look beyond YouTube to verify the information about provocative topics through trusted news outlets and government portals.

Last year, YouTube flirted with the idea of information panels with snippets of articles from reputed outlets for breaking news and excerpts from Wikipedia for other topics, but this is the first time it’s getting help from verified fact-checkers.

With more than 245 million monthly users, India is one of the biggest markets for YouTube; the company has had to grapple with content depicting fake news in the country recently. With the country’s assembly elections just a couple of months away, the video streaming platform will want to have the fake news problem under control during sensitive times.

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