Waving the White Flag at Misinformation

Mar 2023

Tech Layoffs Have Deeply Cut Misinformation Teams

The recent layoffs at Alphabet heavily cut into the team at YouTube that provided moderation for misinformation spread on its platform. These cuts left a SINGLE employee in-charge of all of YouTube’s misinformation policy worldwide. Unbelievable.

Tech is Giving up on their Misinformation Removal Efforts

This example at YouTube illustrates a more widespread issue where we see these tech giants that were very committed to this immediately following the 2020 election starting to surrender to economic and business challenges. There are a few leading theories as to why this is happening, but the most prevailing one is: moderation is a VERY difficult challenge.

Companies are Weary

A huge amount of resources the past couple years have been dedicated to attempting to suppress the most hateful, untrue, and divisive content on these platforms. The trouble is it feels like a drop in a sea of misinformation. The companies also see the rise of AI and it seems like an almost insurmountable task. Also considering the economic realities and possible impending recession and companies are starting to pull their resources to be more focused on revenue generating activities.

What Does this Mean for the Public?

With the advancement of AI predicted in the next few years, its going to become very difficult to determine what content online is true / real / accurate and what is stretching the details. Clearly hateful content will continue to be moderated effectively, but more subtle misinformation is going to become more and more prevalent online. I think we will see a shift towards more in-person events and live experiences as people’s distrust in the information they see online increases.

In conclusion, this is a great reminder that there is no substitute for in-person connection. Technology will continue to advance and enables a lot of interactions that we couldn’t imagine possible a few years ago, but experiencing people’s in-person presence is a different experience that isn’t replaceable.