Offline ChrisTP

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Youtube to start reducing flat earth videos
« on: February 04, 2019, 12:14:47 PM »
Not sure this is the right place but if not feel free to move it. I noticed youtube's blog, how do you guys feel about the fact that the company are taking steps to essentially block videos claiming the earth is flat?

https://youtube.googleblog.com/2019/01/continuing-our-work-to-improve.html

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Offline Pete Svarrior

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Re: Youtube to start reducing flat earth videos
« Reply #1 on: February 04, 2019, 01:53:15 PM »
To address the "is this in the right place" question: FEM is intended as a repository of media, with minimal commentary. FEC would be more appropriate for this, since you're looking for a discussion rather than just sharing content. I appreciate that the distinction is not always obvious, but I'll move the thread and leave a redirect behind.

As for how we feel about the issue, I spoke about this with Kelly Weill for the Daily Beast.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/youtube-tweaks-algorithm-to-fight-911-truthers-flat-earthers-miracle-cures

Some of my comments were trimmed for brevity, but here's my full statement as issued:

I guess it's not entirely surprising given YouTube's history of censoring content it deems "advertiser unfriendly". If anything, I'm surprised that it took them so long. That said, our understanding is that this policy change is primarily aimed at videos which are automatically recommended to users, and not content that someone actively searches for. Given the momentum our movement has, this might not be as big of an issue as some speculate.

While it's unfortunate that this will no doubt affect some of the most prominent Flat Earth content creators, the Flat Earth Society has been prepared for years. Any social network can pull the rug from under your feet if it decides that your content is no longer welcome - which is why we've never relied on these businesses too much. Most of our content is hosted independently, and maintained by TFES members.

Regardless of any censorship measures YouTube may choose to implement, our Flat Earth Wiki will always be there, serving information to those who may wish to find it.

Who knows - perhaps it's time to start looking into a video sharing service of our own.


In essence, I feel it's a bit of a misrepresentation to call this move a "block" of FE videos - merely an adjustment to recommendations. It's unfortunate but understandable that YouTube wouldn't want to be seen as advertising controversial views.
« Last Edit: February 04, 2019, 02:02:14 PM by Pete Svarrior »
Read the FAQ before asking your question - chances are we've already addressed it.
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Re: Youtube to start reducing flat earth videos
« Reply #2 on: February 04, 2019, 03:33:56 PM »
A silly move done by a company whose management seem increasingly filled with millennial cry babies.

When confronted with a flat earth video, 99.9% of people do one of two things.

1) Call the content creator an idiot in the comments, give them a thumbs down and go to the next video.
2) Take on board the content and begin a debate refuting it. This invariably means at some point they will need to learn about something to fill a hole in their knowledge. They'll want a source disproving the assertion that earth is flat. They'll search, read and learn.

Which part of search, read and learn doesn't Google like?
« Last Edit: February 04, 2019, 03:36:24 PM by Baby Thork »
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Offline ChrisTP

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Re: Youtube to start reducing flat earth videos
« Reply #3 on: February 04, 2019, 04:06:02 PM »
You forgot the secret third option of people believing a video because of naivety and lack of prior knowledge. Misinformation is a real problem on the internet and the general public tend to believe the media they see/read/hear. What google are trying to do is filter out misinformation.

Lots of flat earthers spout their opinions as fact~ Lots of people believe it. They were then misinformed. Just like how people say that the US definitely didn't land on the moon or that the ISS is definitely not real. All opinions.

I think google have messed up with this though, conspiracy theorists will only look at this move as if a higher power is covering up 'the truth' and it'll add fuel to the fire. I can see flat earthers using this as 'evidence' that they are on the right track.

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Offline Pete Svarrior

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Re: Youtube to start reducing flat earth videos
« Reply #4 on: February 04, 2019, 04:18:58 PM »
What google are trying to do is filter out misinformation.
Right, but that poses many questions, like: who gets to decide what is "information" and what is "misinformation"? I'll deliberately move away from FET for a moment (because we're bound to disagree there). Consider, for example, that a Minecraft/Fortnite YouTuber called SSundee recently published a video that's, in essence, a badly phrased statement of Pascal's Wager. So badly phrased that even major Christian organisations don't want to have much to do with it.

We're looking at nearly 4 million views, far more than any FE video out there, and it's probably mostly children (given the channel's usual subject and target demographic).

Is it misinformation? YouTube doesn't seem to think so. I happen to disagree. But who gets to decide? The business owners, of course.

Make no mistake - Google aren't trying to combat "misinformation". They're trying to combat content that advertisers told Google to combat. It's how they make money.
« Last Edit: February 04, 2019, 04:23:41 PM by Pete Svarrior »
Read the FAQ before asking your question - chances are we've already addressed it.
Follow the Flat Earth Society on Facebook and Twitter!


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Re: Youtube to start reducing flat earth videos
« Reply #5 on: February 04, 2019, 04:20:50 PM »
You forgot the secret third option of people believing a video because of naivety and lack of prior knowledge. Misinformation is a real problem on the internet and the general public tend to believe the media they see/read/hear. What google are trying to do is filter out misinformation.
I have mixed feelings about this. If people start putting videos on YouTube about how, say, garlic cures cancer and people see that, believe it and then die because they didn't seek professional advice/treatment then that actually harms people. If people see a FE video which says that the earth can't be round because if it were and the earth was spinning at 1000mph at the equator then all the water would fly off then if people ignorant of science see that and believe it then is any real harm done? It adds to the sum of human stupidity but there's no real harm done.

I don't like the idea of misinformation proliferating but who is the arbiter of what is misinformation?
If you are making your claim without evidence then we can discard it without evidence.

Re: Youtube to start reducing flat earth videos
« Reply #6 on: February 04, 2019, 04:36:48 PM »
I've been at this site for about a decade. Maybe made 40,000-50,000 posts by now, I've lost count. I've never managed to convince a single person that the earth is flat. Option 3 doesn't exist.

But I have reached kids that teachers couldn't. Those disengaged, those that would never put their hand up in class but can hide behind the anonymity of the internet, those that didn't think they had an interest in science until the day they needed it to prove that I'm an idiot. In class you can be told the earth is round, but that's a pretty shaky basis for establishing a foundation that you will build everything else upon. Why is it round? How can you be so sure? What are the underlying principles? Do you understand every nuisance, can you use what you know to explain things you've never considered before? Explain to the alien, school the flat earther.

"Someone is wrong on the internet" is a powerful motivator. It will motivate kids to read scientific papers, do pack of envelop calculations, debate, discuss, create their own content ... and not as a tick in the box assignment for a grade. Because they became passionate about it. Because they wanted to win. Because they wanted to use their wit and brains to defeat a loudmouth on the internet. The flat earth movement is 21st century digital education. Effective, alluring, interactive and rewarding. No one leaves this forum more stupid than the day that they arrived.

And yet google stomps through the internet meadow, crushing the delicate little flowers beneath with its size 12 boots because it has no sense of the underlying ecosystem that it is destroying and it never takes a moment to stop and enjoy the beauty of things it doesn't understand.
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Offline iamcpc

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Re: Youtube to start reducing flat earth videos
« Reply #7 on: February 04, 2019, 11:32:12 PM »
I have mixed feelings about this. If people start putting videos on YouTube about how, say, garlic cures cancer and people see that, believe it and then die because they didn't seek professional advice/treatment then that actually harms people. If people see a FE video which says that the earth can't be round because if it were and the earth was spinning at 1000mph at the equator then all the water would fly off then if people ignorant of science see that and believe it then is any real harm done? It adds to the sum of human stupidity but there's no real harm done.

It's not the idea which causes harm. It's more the spread of the idea or conformation bias presented in the evidence.

If I present a well edited video with lots of evidence supporting the claim that cancer treatment kills you and garlic saves you. And present you with lots of evidence that big pharma and the medical industry profit billions from cancer treatments. And present you with hundreds of people who no longer have cancer, backed with doctor interviews, and those people claim they only ate garlic to cure their cancer. I'm able to create a powerful piece of propaganda. Suddenly you can easily claim that any evidence which supports that garlic is not the best treatment for cancer is just propaganda from big pharma and the medical industry so they can keep making billions from keeping you sick. Wow. Powerful claims.

I am not presenting any evidence that weakens my original claim. I'm not pointing out that 98% of the people who decided to go with a garlic only treatment method died of cancer. I'm only presenting evidence which supports my view (in a very one sided way which will bring as many people as possible to my way of thinking) while refusing to present evidence which contradicts my view it's VERY easy to present a very compelling video capable of convincing many people. Look at Steve Jobs. He got cancer, caught it early, and would have had like a 99% survival rate but, because if information like this, decided to try to treat his own cancer with organic orange juice. When it failed miserably it was too late to save his life.

Presenting a dumb idea = It adds to the sum of human stupidity but there's no real harm done.
Presenting one sided dumb idea propaganda which causes the dumb idea to spread =  It adds to the sum of human stupidity with a good chance of causing real harm.



Even if you present a "harmless" idea like 1+1 = 77.  You throw some convincing evidence behind it, an interview with a mentally unstable mathematician, A retired mentally unstable math professor and next thing you know there are thousands of people believing that 1+1 = 77. This simple concept undermines all of mathematics, the education system, and someone who grows up indoctrinated in this way of thinking will be nothing but a hindrance on society.






Look at pizzagate:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pizzagate_conspiracy_theory
There was conspiracy theory propaganda which created a feedback loop similar to the one shown above which culminated with things like:


-Destruction of property
-vandalism
-harassment
-threats
-shootings





What about Sandy Hook?

Another example of a similar positive feedback loop and thousand of people think that the parents who lost their loved ones in a horrible tragedy are liars. Some of those parents are harassed online, and even received death threats. Even by James Tracy  a PHD educated tenured professor who was harassing the parents of the victims.
« Last Edit: February 04, 2019, 11:57:33 PM by iamcpc »

Re: Youtube to start reducing flat earth videos
« Reply #8 on: February 05, 2019, 11:14:46 AM »
^ Are you saying you are smarter than Steve Jobs and that Steve Jobs was poorly educated?  ::)
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Offline ChrisTP

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Re: Youtube to start reducing flat earth videos
« Reply #9 on: February 05, 2019, 11:26:19 AM »
^ Are you saying you are smarter than Steve Jobs and that Steve Jobs was poorly educated?  ::)
Lol ok Cathy Newman.

FE aside, I do agree that it's a slippery slope for Google to start assuming what I want to see and what counts as misinformation. Obviously in this case I happen to agree that people stating the earth is flat is misinformation but I understand that at some point google may decide I don't want to see something when I actually do. It's a controversial move and a small step away from censorship which is never a good thing.

Also all the FE debunking youtubers won't be pleased either since they make a small living off of making content based on debunking other flat earth videos.

« Last Edit: February 05, 2019, 11:33:27 AM by ChrisTP »

Re: Youtube to start reducing flat earth videos
« Reply #10 on: February 05, 2019, 11:50:04 AM »
You forgot the secret third option of people believing a video because of naivety and lack of prior knowledge. Misinformation is a real problem on the internet and the general public tend to believe the media they see/read/hear. What google are trying to do is filter out misinformation.
And here lies the rub.

RE adherents claim it is a matter of natural fact (i.e., people are innately aware the earth is a sphere, almost like they are born with the knowledge).

Yet, the primary reasons given for the existence of the ever-burgeoning FE movement is supposed..."...naivety and lack of prior knowledge."

That is all horse hoakum.

Anybody who wants to research the issue can do so, except those you deem naive. As for lack of prior knowledge, from the time of infancy, every human on earth is bombarded with RE BS.
Lots of flat earthers spout their opinions as fact~ Lots of people believe it.

You also spout opinion as fact.
They were then misinformed.
You are misinformed.
Just like how people say that the US definitely didn't land on the moon or that the ISS is definitely not real. All opinions.
None of this has anything to do with FE.
I think google have messed up with this though, conspiracy theorists will only look at this move as if a higher power is covering up 'the truth' and it'll add fuel to the fire. I can see flat earthers using this as 'evidence' that they are on the right track.
Not really.

Like Pete wrote, I look at it as a company making a decision on what they choose to promote.
« Last Edit: February 15, 2019, 02:06:54 PM by totallackey »

Re: Youtube to start reducing flat earth videos
« Reply #11 on: February 05, 2019, 12:00:30 PM »
Like Pete wrote, I look at it as a company making a decision on what they choose to promote.
If they choose what is promoted then they are publishers, not platforms. This means they no longer receive protection from Section 230.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Section_230_of_the_Communications_Decency_Act

And that would be fine by me. They could then be sued for anything on their platforms. They can't have it both ways. Either you aren't responsible and you can't edit a public platform, or you do edit and you are a liable publisher.
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Offline ChrisTP

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Re: Youtube to start reducing flat earth videos
« Reply #12 on: February 05, 2019, 12:37:50 PM »
Totallackey, not that it matters to this thread but being taught something at a young age does not make it not true... You were not aware of bacteria when you were first born but that doesn't mean bacteria didn't exist. the human senses and base knowledge is super basic and not enough to go on for acquiring natural knowledge of the cosmos. It's a non-argument. To learn and discover more we need tools and instruments to make up for our inabilities. Tell me, if you dip your hand in hot water would you be able to tell me exactly what temperature it was simply from feeling the heat? Would a thermometer be more accurate than your senses? Would you be able to look at the trunk of a tree and say in millimetres how thick it is without using some tool to measure it? Human senses cannot give you the knowledge for everything and so we rely on tools to figure things out then education to pass on the information we learn. I'm not saying it's a perfect system but it certainly doesn't make everything we were taught in school wrong (I actually think every school should have a critical thinking class of some kind).

Also being told from a young age that the earth is round is nowhere near the amount of knowledge any one person needs to know that the earth is actually round. For example, I could tell a child the earth is round and since they may look up to me as an authoritative figure they will simply believe it, but then they still have no knowledge of the round earth... So when another person comes along as says it's flat, who are they to believe? They have no actual knowledge of either and now they are presented with another earth model that at first glance makes sense. Not everyone does the research and thus they will fall victim to almost anything presented to them.

~I have a friend who is absolutely 100% sure that crop circles are real (made by aliens) because she saw a "youtube documentary". That's literally the only piece of evidence she got and from that, she is so sure she's right. Of course it doesn't harm anyone to believe something like that but it's still misinformation. I think misinformation is detrimental to society. It is my opinion that we as the human race should strive for knowledge and understanding which is why I'm against misinformation. So yes, when you get popular youtube videos of people saying stuff like "earth is flat because planes would need to keep nose diving to stay level on a round earth" I think that's misinformation whether the earth is flat or round. Level is the same all the way round the ball perpendicular to the core in the case of round earth.

Of course, I equally think thing like "I climbed to the top of mount everest and here is a photo of the curvature of the earth!" is misinformation too. It's not as simple as "FE WRONG, RE RIGHT" because there's idiots on both sides spreading idiocy. I won't even go into why I stated that saying the earth is flat is misinformation because, quite obviously I don't think the earth is flat... But that's a topic for another thread.
« Last Edit: February 05, 2019, 02:09:53 PM by ChrisTP »

Re: Youtube to start reducing flat earth videos
« Reply #13 on: February 05, 2019, 01:39:51 PM »
RE adherents claim it is a matter of natural fact (i.e., people are innately aware the earth is a sphere, almost like they are born with the knowledge).
I have literally never heard anyone claim that.
Ancient civilisations believed we lived on a flat earth, if you knew nothing about how the world works then that would be the natural conclusion and you'd think the sun goes around the flat earth - above it in the day, below it in the night. So day would be day everywhere and night would be night everywhere.
I don't think anyone would claim that the knowledge that the earth is a globe is innate.
If you are making your claim without evidence then we can discard it without evidence.

Re: Youtube to start reducing flat earth videos
« Reply #14 on: February 05, 2019, 02:46:14 PM »
Like Pete wrote, I look at it as a company making a decision on what they choose to promote.
If they choose what is promoted then they are publishers, not platforms. This means they no longer receive protection from Section 230.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Section_230_of_the_Communications_Decency_Act

And that would be fine by me. They could then be sued for anything on their platforms. They can't have it both ways. Either you aren't responsible and you can't edit a public platform, or you do edit and you are a liable publisher.
Not sure I understand.

They are not refusing to host the videos.

According to what I read they are simply not going to show up as frequently in someone's recommended to watch list.

A person can still search for and find flat earth videos on YouTube.

Re: Youtube to start reducing flat earth videos
« Reply #15 on: February 05, 2019, 02:53:30 PM »
Sure. Just as they can round Earth supporting videos as well. Thus leaving said person as always to make up their own mind. Which is how it should be.

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Offline markjo

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Re: Youtube to start reducing flat earth videos
« Reply #16 on: February 05, 2019, 02:56:47 PM »
According to what I read they are simply not going to show up as frequently in someone's recommended to watch list.

A person can still search for and find flat earth videos on YouTube.
Yes, it sounds like that is exactly what YouTube is doing.  Here is the relevant passage from the link in the OP (emphasis mine):
More recently, people told us they were getting too many similar recommendations, like seeing endless cookie videos after watching just one recipe for snickerdoodles. We now pull in recommendations from a wider set of topics—on any given day, more than 200 million videos are recommended on the homepage alone. In fact, in the last year alone, we’ve made hundreds of changes to improve the quality of recommendations for users on YouTube.

We’ll continue that work this year, including taking a closer look at how we can reduce the spread of content that comes close to—but doesn’t quite cross the line of—violating our Community Guidelines. To that end, we’ll begin reducing recommendations of borderline content and content that could misinform users in harmful ways—such as videos promoting a phony miracle cure for a serious illness, claiming the earth is flat, or making blatantly false claims about historic events like 9/11.

While this shift will apply to less than one percent of the content on YouTube, we believe that limiting the recommendation of these types of videos will mean a better experience for the YouTube community. To be clear, this will only affect recommendations of what videos to watch, not whether a video is available on YouTube. As always, people can still access all videos that comply with our Community Guidelines and, when relevant, these videos may appear in recommendations for channel subscribers and in search results. We think this change strikes a balance between maintaining a platform for free speech and living up to our responsibility to users.
« Last Edit: February 05, 2019, 02:58:19 PM by markjo »
Abandon hope all ye who press enter here.

If you can't demonstrate it, then you shouldn't believe it.

Re: Youtube to start reducing flat earth videos
« Reply #17 on: February 05, 2019, 04:57:25 PM »
I've been at this site for about a decade. Maybe made 40,000-50,000 posts by now, I've lost count. I've never managed to convince a single person that the earth is flat. Option 3 doesn't exist.

But I have reached kids that teachers couldn't. Those disengaged, those that would never put their hand up in class but can hide behind the anonymity of the internet, those that didn't think they had an interest in science until the day they needed it to prove that I'm an idiot. In class you can be told the earth is round, but that's a pretty shaky basis for establishing a foundation that you will build everything else upon. Why is it round? How can you be so sure? What are the underlying principles? Do you understand every nuisance, can you use what you know to explain things you've never considered before? Explain to the alien, school the flat earther.

"Someone is wrong on the internet" is a powerful motivator. It will motivate kids to read scientific papers, do pack of envelop calculations, debate, discuss, create their own content ... and not as a tick in the box assignment for a grade. Because they became passionate about it. Because they wanted to win. Because they wanted to use their wit and brains to defeat a loudmouth on the internet. The flat earth movement is 21st century digital education. Effective, alluring, interactive and rewarding. No one leaves this forum more stupid than the day that they arrived.

And yet google stomps through the internet meadow, crushing the delicate little flowers beneath with its size 12 boots because it has no sense of the underlying ecosystem that it is destroying and it never takes a moment to stop and enjoy the beauty of things it doesn't understand.

Well played Baby Thork sir, well played 👏🏻 That’s the first time I’ve been Rick Rolled in, ooh, 5 years or more!

I have to admit you make a good point. I am far from being a scientist - I’m actually a retired nurse, so know a certain amount of human biology, but that helps zilch in this area. I have, however, done a good amount of reading and thinking about this since rediscovering the FE argument. All of my exploring has only confirmed what I always believed but wouldn’t have been able to articulate: that we live on a globe Earth. I have the Flat Earth folk to thank for that!

Warm wishes and God bless.

Offline iamcpc

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Re: Youtube to start reducing flat earth videos
« Reply #18 on: February 07, 2019, 06:45:32 PM »
And yet google stomps through the internet meadow, crushing the delicate little flowers beneath with its size 12 boots because it has no sense of the underlying ecosystem that it is destroying and it never takes a moment to stop and enjoy the beauty of things it doesn't understand.

Some conspiracy theories are much more harmful than beautiful. When you create one sided, out of context, and misleading propaganda about these theories which are more harmful than beautiful that's where the problem lies.

The hard part is making these decisions. Is this conspiracy theory harmful? Yes or no?

I could make a case that the Sandy Hook conspiracy theory was harmful because parents who went through a horrible tragedy are being harassed and threatened. Does that mean that it's a harmful conspiracy theory? Even if there was a vote on youtube and 90% of the people agree that this conspiracy theory is harmful then:

We have to go to individual videos about that specific harmful conspiracy theory and say is this a one sided, out of context, misleading propaganda or not?

Offline ChrisTP

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Re: Youtube to start reducing flat earth videos
« Reply #19 on: February 15, 2019, 01:26:59 PM »
Well I called this,



Flat earthers using this news as a way to confirm they're right about flat earth.