There’s No Time to Explain, But Stop Getting Your News from YouTube

There’s No Time to Explain, But Stop Getting Your News from YouTube
Image: Olivier Douliery, Getty Images

Hello, time-travelling secret agent here with a dispatch: abandon your independent so-called “news” channels on YouTube — this is a really important warning!!

My reasons for this transmission are based on empirical evidence. An expansive, new (to you) Pew Research Centre survey of 12,638 U.S. adults has found that 26% of American adults get their news on YouTube, the video hosting platform responsible for The Event. The researchers of your time found that independent, non-vetted channels are far more likely to spread conspiracy theories; a December 2019 review of 3,000 videos from 100 top-viewed news channels found that some 14% of videos from independent channels were solely devoted to conspiracy theories, and 21% mentioned them.

Since Pew (and it’s really tragic what happens to them, but I digress) conducted its survey in January, the independent-to-news ratio has skewed. I left up-to-date numbers in my other time-travelling pants, which is a pretty expensive whoopsie, but you’re just going to have to trust me on this one: it gets worse.

When surveyed, most YouTube news consumers were looking for impeachment content. (That also doesn’t get better either, but trust me you’d rather be here than trying to form a military coup against Logan Paul.) That was months before coronavirus-related conspiracy videos wound their way down the YouTube funnel and into the current U.S. president’s Twitter feed.

In June 2020, researchers from the Policy Institute of King’s College of London found that YouTube is a coronavirus conspiracy hotbed; 59% of those surveyed who believed there was no hard evidence that coronavirus exists got a lot of their information from YouTube. When I’m from, a not-insubstantial group of people believe they can “develop herd immunity” to “repeated stab wounds” so… really, you all need to nip this in bud now.

Plus, there’s been a severe uptick in QAnon conspiracy believers since March, when Pew reported that most people had never heard of unfounded belief in Satanic pedovores. Pew estimates now — in September of 2020 — that about half of Americans have heard about QAnon. And your most recent Daily Kos/Civiqs poll shows that 56% of Republicans at least partly believe it at this particular point in time.

Don’t — DO NOT — watch this content!! You all think you’re joking about bad content causing “brain worms.” Try laughing after watching an eel with the voice of Alex Jones split your best friend’s forehead in half. Shit, you’re not supposed to know about that yet… just forget I said anything.

I can’t tell you more about what’s going to happen or who I work for. (And no, I’m not ~ you in the future~, smart guy.) Just please, listen to the study and stop looking to YouTube as a source of news. For all of us. There are those among us who remember 2020 as one of the “good” years.