“Hey, Guys”: the latest on YouTube, Facebook oversight and more

YouTube is a huge source of news, Facebook gets a hostile oversight board. Just another Tuesday in the digital culture wars.

Adam Tinworth
Adam Tinworth

Are we underestimating YouTube as a news conduit?

As I write this, I'm revising (and revising and revising) my slides for my first two lectures at City this year. All Zoom, of course, with no plans for me to meet this year's cohort in person this side of Christmas. So, it's handy to get some timely research on where people get their news, prior to my session on news video trends. Sadly, COVID-19 plans mean that someone else will be teaching the hands-on video work. I'll be doing the context and theory.

And part of that context is that YouTube often gets forgotten, as it isn't really seen as social media. It's worth remembering that it's arguably the second biggest search engine in the world.

Many Americans Get News on YouTube, Where News Organizations and Independent Producers Thrive Side by Side
Videos from independent news producers are more likely to cover subjects negatively and discuss conspiracy theories.
A quarter of US adults now get news from YouTube, Pew Research study finds – TechCrunch
Around a quarter of U.S. adults, or roughly 26%, say they get news by watching YouTube videos, according to a new study from Pew Research Center, which examined the Google-owned video platform’s growing influence over news distribution in the U.S., as well as its consumption. The study, not surprisi…

Who oversees the oversight board?

Facebook loves to tell a good story, and then not actually do anything. For example, it set up an independent oversight board — which won't actually go into effect until after the US presidential election, although it might start meeting next month. No rush, eh, Mark?

And so, some of the company's fiercest critics have launched their own alternative oversight board: the Real Facebook Oversight Board. It's going to meet online, publically, once a week. Casey Newton characterises it as an art project or stunt (maybe he's the only one allowed to lead negative coverage of Facebook now? 😇). It feels more like a way of keeping Facebook's missteps firmly in the news, and making it harder for the networking behemoth to move the story on.

It reminds me a little of the Independent SAGE group in the UK, set up as a public-facing alternative to the closed-doors scientific advisory group the government rely on. And that shouldn't be a surprise — the same group, The Citizens, is behind both.

While Facebook works to create an oversight board, industry experts formed their own
Clint Watts tells Chuck Todd he is concerned about “how the social media companies can try and quell” misinformation regarding the election and voting.

Useful Virtual Event Stuff

There's some useful advice in here — better than most of the generic pablum doing the rounds about online events, certainly.

Lessons on Running Virtual Events From Nonprofit News Organizations (SSIR)
With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing civil society groups of all types to take fundraisers online, nonprofit news outlets’ efforts with virtual, discussion-based events can provide additional ideas for any organization seeking to foster community and maintain financial viability.

Quick hits

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Adam is a lecturer, trainer and writer. He's been a blogger for over 20 years, and a journalist for more than 30. He lectures on audience strategy and engagement at City, University of London.