How YouTube Ads May Be Persuading Us to Accept Disinformation

How YouTube Ads May Be Persuading Us to Accept Disinformation

The rise of the internet and the fact that anybody can share their opinions online has been an extremely powerful tool in bringing awareness to social issues, problems, and possible solutions. However, it has also given people the power to disseminate misinformation with the intent of swaying people’s views on controversial topics, like gun control or same-sex marriage, without them knowing they are being manipulated. In this article, we will discuss how YouTube ads may be contributing to the acceptance of disinformation on controversial topics through persuasive storytelling and misinformation tactics.

The Context

YouTube Ads are now being used as a way to persuade people to adopt disinformation. Data collected by the European Commission Joint Research Centre (JRC) has shown that there is a correlation between exposure to ads and accepting disinformation online. It also says there’s an increased likelihood of accepting conspiracy theories after consuming ads,

such as what happened with the many so-called Flat Earth commercials that flooded social media in 2017. The JRC report indicates that one commercial, in particular, had a significant impact on Europeans’ thinking when it aired on the German RTL channel in January 2018.

The Study

Two professors analyzed 600,000 YouTube ads and discovered that the ads are more likely to prompt people to share disinformation. They found that even ads which express both sides of an issue can convince viewers to accept the false side because it was discussed first. This is not only dangerous for us but our society as a whole as well.

It seems as though trust in information from online sources is deteriorating quickly and nothing will be able to fix this problem except for people to pay attention and think critically about the information they encounter on their screens.

The Problem with Google’s Response

Google’s recent announcement that they would take measures to stop the promotion of misinformation is a great start, but it should have come sooner. As an advertising service, Google’s first goal was and still is to sell ads to YouTube Ads companies for revenue. The truth has not been important for Google, as long as it is convenient and makes money.

But now with their announcement comes a new understanding of YouTube’s position in the fight against disinformation. For example, advertisers themselves could be unwittingly contributing to the spread of disinformation by relying on untrustworthy advertisements from which they derive their metrics.

Recommendations for Users

YouTube Ads May Be Persuading Us to Accept Disinformation

It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words. However, do a thousand words hold up when the pictures are not real? ~~What about if the pictures are not for what they are trying to be sold to you?~~ These types of scenarios would be disturbing and unimaginable to some, but they might also be familiar to others.

When online videos go viral or advertisements on social media sites like Facebook and YouTube Ads get shared among your circle of friends, you may question their validity and validity as an honest form of advertising in this digital age. Yes, these ads can persuade us to accept disinformation by making false advertisements seem believable with real-looking footage.

Recommendations for Google

YouTube Ads May Be Persuading Us to Accept Disinformation

YouTube ads may be persuading us to accept disinformation. In their blog, MetricLab writes about two possible explanations for why YouTube ads are problematic: Implicit endorsement of particular brands and values and Loss of control over advertising context, as adverts may also have content relating to disinformation (1).

The first explanation is troubling because it implies that the mere endorsement of brands such as Axe Body Spray or Nike could make us more inclined to believe a falsehood to feel like part of a community.

Potential Policy Responses

YouTube Ads May Be Persuading Us to Accept Disinformation As corporations like YouTube Ads  roll out new ways to get content creators paid and offer better advertising options, many are concerned that it may lead to the spread of false or misleading information on the video streaming platform.

While there is no known evidence that these fears have come true, companies should be mindful of how their actions might impact others in this digital age. With over one billion videos watched on average per day, there is no reason not to worry about what content has been approved as an advertisement on this platform. The answer might be less obvious than one might hope for when looking at a campaign from an objective standpoint: do the benefits outweigh the negatives?

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