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YouTube adds feature to fact-check viral conspiracy videos and fake news

YouTube is working to decrease the popularity of fake news and conspiracy theories on its platform by rolling out a new feature to fact-check videos on sensitive topics. But this new disclaimer will only show up in search results, not on the actual videos and YouTube will not be fact-checking individual videos. 

"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," a YouTube spokesperson told CBS News Thursday. When users search for topics prone to misinformation, an "information panel" will pop-up to debunk or fact-check the search. 

The information shown in the panels is provided by YouTube's verified fact-checking partners, which have gone through an eligibility process and rely on the schema.org ClaimReview markup process. Panels may include terms such as "Hoax Alert!" and "FAKE" to alert users of the potentially incorrect content that may appear in search results.   

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An "information panel" for the search "virus in paracetamol." The panel appears with the phrase, "Hoax Alert!" because the tablets do not contain the virus in question.  YouTube

But videos containing misinformation may still appear in the search results, and YouTube will not be fact-checking individual videos. The disclaimers will appear above videos and below the search topic, serving as a warning. The site is not removing videos, regardless of whether or not they contain false information. YouTube says that the ultimate goal is to provide context to users but still allow them to make their own decisions. 

YouTube has been criticized for the spread of misinformation on its platform, and this move might not quell critics of YouTube since the disclaimer only show up in search results. 

According to a YouTube spokesperson, the feature is currently available to some users in India — one of YouTubes largest markets — and works for searches in English and Hindi. YouTube plans to expand the feature worldwide throughout the rest of the year. 

In summer 2018, YouTube introduced new features to make authoritative news sources a higher priority on the platform. The initiative was designed to promote high-quality breaking news and top news sources in search results and make credible sources easily accessible to users. Information panels are meant to build on these features, further cracking down on the spread of misinformation on the site.