YouTube has done a lot of growing up over the past couple of years, CEO Susan Wojcicki said this week. Speaking at the Wired 25 Summit in San Francisco, Wojcicki said the past 18 months have been a period of improvement for the company, and that YouTube is “in a much better place, we really worked hard.”
Growing up, of course, can involve growing pains. In YouTube’s case, recent growing pains have come in the form of ongoing issues with the spread of questionable content, including videos peddling conspiracy theories like ‘Pizzagate’ and propagating the notion that mass shootings like those that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School and Stoneman Douglas High School were ‘false-flag attacks’ carried out by the U.S. government.
YouTube has also faced accusations that its algorithms enable conspiracy theory-ridden content — an accusation that came up at the summit, when Peter Rubin, the journalist interviewing Wojcicki, informed her onstage that searching for her name on YouTube pulled up conspiracy videos, Variety reports.
Wojcicki said YouTube is still working to improve its search results. “Our goal is to be able to give you the most relevant information,” she said. “We want those top results to be right.”
She added that YouTube has plans to partner with more trusted sources to flesh out its ‘Information Cues‘ feature, which it added it March. (Also in March, YouTube added a ‘Top News’ section meant to combat the spread of misinformation by offering up fact-based news). With Information Cues, text boxes with factual information pop up on conspiracy theory videos. Currently, the feature contains information from Wikipedia and Encyclopedia Brittanica.
While it will be including information from partnered sources, YouTube will not be directly editorializing videos itself, Wojcicki noted. “We don’t want to be in the business of saying: This is true, this is not true.”