YouTube entails so much more than a video-sharing platform. This online platform hosts around two billion users every month, is a news outlet, an archive, educational tool and a laboratory. Not only is it a jackpot for DIYers looking for information on such topics as heating and plumbing, HVAC systems, and how to hire furnace contractors, etc. It also host hundreds of videos on climate conspiracy theories.
An exploratory research project suggests that if you use YouTube to find out more about climate science, search engine videos are likely to expose you to some level of misinformation. The research was meant to evaluate what video users are going to see when they search for climate topics and to see if the info represented there challenges or adheres to the scientific consensus as outlined by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
All in all, ten search terms were made use of: climate, climate engineering, climate change, global warming, climate modification, climate manipulation, geoengineering, climate hacking and chemtrails. The last two are non-scientific terms that conspiracy theorists frequently used by conspiracy theorists. To find if similar videos were brought up, they were included as a kind of ‘search control’.
The team used an online anonymization tool, Tor, which eliminated personal search history and found 200 videos search results, which is approximately twenty videos per search term. Noteworthy, 89 of the videos found to be supporting scientific consensus views of human-caused climate change, of which four of them included scientists arguing topics with deniers. Alternatively, 107 of these videos were found to be in opposition of scientific consensus views, with 16 denying human-caused climate change outrightly and 91 of them advancing conspiracy theories about climate change and climate engineering.
And to get an in-depth estimate concerning the impact of this imbalance, Allgaier had a look at the number of views the videos had accumulated. The results found are the most troubling aspect of the entire research, finding a nearly-even split between climate misinformation video viewers and the number of accurate information videos. Videos that support scientific mainstream views got around 17 million views in total, while the opposing mainstream scientific position got 2,294 less views.
To read the full story, visit Science Alert.