According to research by Texas Tech University, almost everyone who believes in flat earth theory got started on YouTube.
Texas Tech University assistant professor of science communication Dr Asheley Landrum conducted a brief survey with 30 people at a Flat Earth convention and found that all but one of the attendees became Flat Earth believer after watching videos on YouTube.
She made her case at an event run by the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
According to The Guardian, Landrum doesn’t outright blame YouTube for the increase of Flat Earth believers but feels that the Google-owned video sharing platform should be more proactive in stopping the spread of misinformation.
‘There’s a lot of helpful information on YouTube but also a lot of misinformation’, Landrum said. She further added ’Their algorithms make it easy to end up going down the rabbit hole, by presenting information to people who are going to be more susceptible to it.’
Earlier this year, YouTube announced that it will work on how to reduce the spread of content that comes close to – but doesn’t quite cross the line of – violating their Community Guidelines.
‘To that end, we’ll begin reducing recommendations of borderline content and content that could misinform users in harmful ways – such as videos promoting a phony miracle cure for a serious illness, claiming the earth is flat, or making blatantly false claims about historic events like 9/11,’ YouTube said in a blog post dated January 25.
Landrum called on scientists and others to create their own YouTube videos to combat the proliferation of conspiracy videos. ‘We don’t want YouTube to be full of videos saying here are all these reasons the Earth is flat. We need other videos saying here’s why those reasons aren’t real and here’s a bunch of ways you can research it for yourself.’
‘There’s always going to be a small percentage of people who will reject anything that scientists put out there but the only tool we have to battle misinformation is to try and overwhelm it with better information,’ she added.