YouTube ride : should not be taken for granted..

(Dr Indira Rai)


Though Indian Social Media is principally democratic being a media for the society by the society and of the society. Still the society is a conglomerate of all kinds of people. Society, obviously is proud of its phenomena of rumor mongering. So is social media, no matter what soil it hails from. Now YouTube has also been seen aligning itself with Facebook and Twitter. The twins usually get blamed for spreading ‘fake news’, but now we can also be evident to plenty of unreliable videos circulating on YouTube.


Undoubtedly, YouTube has to go for the damage control. It is seen making efforts to tackle the problem with new regulations on labeling and monetization of videos, but as per the experts, the content policing is not easy here because of the number of languages, India has.


It gets too unfortunate when we watch something which is more shocking than amazing.  People have reported about some YouTube videos which claim French President Emmanuel Macron greeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi by touching his feet last June in Paris. Certainly it is an untrue claim but the number of watchers of just one of these videos is also amazing. It was seen more than 12 lakh times. The title being “France ke president ne  Modi ke pair chhoo kar liya aashirwad, Modi ji ne utha kar gale lagaa liya (The French Prez Macron touches Modi’s feet for blessings and Modi embraces him in response),” misguides the innocent watcher.


This might be a mischief if not a well-planned strategy. But what about other clips which are simply villainous. This again has a backdrop of India. A reporter of a news website found it out. It was not one but were two videos on YouTube and one of the two was from Rajasthan. The other one belonged to Bangladesh. These were posted together intimating as scenes of communal trouble in the western Indian state as a result of a temple being assaulted. It was just not YouTube, but all the These were shared across social media platforms in India, including YouTube. Initial internet probing revealed that the two videos were separated from each other. One of the Indian news channels confirmed the same independently from Ranipur (Rajasthan), where the violence allegedly transpired.


How can one forget the student activist Gurmehar Kaur who last year waged war against Akhil Bharteey Vidyarthi Parishad. She was then made part of a video which went viral.  Gurmehar’s image was tried to be blackened through a video of another woman dancing inside a car. With “Gurmehar Kaur dancing” maximum number of searches end up negating the claim. Still one clip with “Gurmehar Kaur’s dance video with friends!” title still can be seen existing over there with a over 97,000 times watch clickings till the date. Facebook and Twitter also did not miss the opportunity sharing the link since then onwards.


The senior news Journalist Indraneel Teeto clarifies the simple funda. “Any one can any time download a video from YouTube and share it anywhere he wants. Ones a video is viral then sky is the limit and all the platform of social media embraces is within a time of an eye-wink. And this is what we call a viral video.” Teeto is running a digital news channel, News India Global. About the solution he suggests, only the main platform i.e. YouTube should bear the responsibility of checking the authenticity and with the help of other news platforms such clips can be caught.  Teeto opines the details of each video must be made a must for all the up-loaders which would make the reality check little easier.


By the way, it is not for the first time YouTube is facing such situations. It is already working on the issue taking action against the fake channels and all such fakers who are active on its platform with a well-chalked out agenda or are here just for a silly fun or mischief.  YouTube has toughened its rules and regulation more strongly for stopping such elements entering and existing on its platform. Now earning through ad on the YouTube video is not too easy. In comparison with the previous situation where any YouTube channel with 10,000 total views could start earning money through advertisements, now the year 2018 has made it too difficult for all Tom-Dick-and-Harries here. People need to  have “1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of watch time within the past 12 months” to be eligible for the monetization. Susan Wojcicki, CEO, YouTube, has already made an announcement that YouTube is going to depute 10,000 human reviewers by the year-end to vet videos flagged by users. The CEO also indicated to tackle other misusage of the platform for conspiracies and malign.


‘‘We need to know how to filter what is fake,’ suggests Teeto. ‘‘Ultimately it is we who are going to be harmed or benefitted out of our browsing if we are planning to encash the knowledge. Hence let us be responsible enough for us to judge things seen or watched also.’’


YouTube has 22.5 crore monthly active users on mobile in India, many of whom rely heavily on video as data plans are cheap. People do depend on it for data i.e. factual data. But now not everyone can get so lucky to always come across an authentic source or piece of data. Although, being the most searched and watched digital platform it is undoubtedly one of the most powerful radicalizing instruments of the 21st century.