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Can YouTube Quiet Its Conspiracy Theorists?



Can YouTube Quiet Its Conspiracy Theorists?

A new study examines YouTube’s efforts to limit the spread of conspiracy theories on its site, from videos claiming the end times are near to those questioning climate change.

Climate change is a hoax, the Bible predicted President Trump’s election and Elon Musk is a devil worshiper trying to take over the world.

All of these fictions have found life on YouTube, the world’s largest video site, in part because YouTube’s own recommendations steered people their way.

For years it has been a highly effective megaphone for conspiracy theorists, and YouTube, owned and run by Google, has admitted as much. In January 2019, YouTube said it would limit the spread of videos “that could misinform users in harmful ways.”

One year later, YouTube recommends conspiracy theories far less than before. But its progress has been uneven and it continues to advance certain types of fabrications, according to a new study from researchers at University of California, Berkeley.

YouTube’s efforts to curb conspiracy theories pose a major test of Silicon Valley’s ability to combat misinformation, particularly ahead of this year’s elections. The study, which examined eight million recommendations over 15 months, provides one of the clearest pictures yet of that fight, and the mixed findings show how challenging the issue remains for tech companies like Google, Facebook and Twitter.

The researchers found that YouTube has nearly eradicated some conspiracy theories from its recommendations, including claims that the earth is flat and that the U.S. government carried out the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, two falsehoods the company identified as targets last year. In June, YouTube said the amount of time people spent watching such videos from its recommendations had dropped by 50 percent.

Yet the Berkeley researchers found that just after YouTube announced that success, its recommendations of conspiracy theories jumped back up and then fluctuated over the next several months.

This is the share of conspiracy videos recommended from top news-related clips

YouTube announces watch time of “borderline content” from recommendations dropped by 50%

YouTube announces effort to improve recommendations

YouTube announces effort to improve recommendations

YouTube announces watch time of “borderline content” from recommendations dropped by 50%

YouTube announces effort to improve recommendations

YouTube announces watch time of “borderline content” from recommendations dropped by 50%

Note: Recommendations were collected daily from the “Up next” column alongside videos posted by more than 1,000 of the top news and information channels. The figures include only videos that ranked 0.5 or higher on the zero-to-one scale of conspiracy likelihood developed by the researchers.·Source: Hany Farid and Marc Faddoul at University of California, Berkeley, and Guillaume Chaslot

The data also showed that other falsehoods continued to flourish in YouTube’s recommendations, like claims that aliens created the pyramids, that the government is hiding secret technologies and that climate change is a lie.

The researchers argue those findings suggest that YouTube has decided which types of misinformation it wants to root out and which types it is willing to allow. “It is a technological problem, but it is really at the end of the day also a policy problem,” said Hany Farid, a computer science professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and co-author of the study.

“If you have the ability to essentially drive some of the particularly problematic content close to zero, well then you can do more on lots of things,” he added. “They use the word ‘can’t’ when they mean ‘won’t.’”

Farshad Shadloo, a YouTube spokesman, said the company’s recommendations aimed to steer people toward authoritative videos that leave them satisfied. He said the company was continually improving the algorithm that generates the recommendations. “Over the past year alone, we’ve launched over 30 different changes to reduce recommendations of borderline content and harmful misinformation, including climate change misinformation and other types of conspiracy videos,” he said. “Thanks to this change, watchtime this type of content gets from recommendations has dropped by over 70 percent in the U.S.”

YouTube’s powerful recommendation algorithm, which pushes its two billion monthly users to videos it thinks they will watch, has fueled the platform’s ascent to become the new TV for many across the world. The company has said its recommendations drive over 70 percent of the more than one billion hours people spend watching videos each day, making the software that picks the recommendations among the world’s most influential algorithms.

Alongside the video currently playing, YouTube recommends new videos to watch next. An algorithm helps determine which videos to suggest, often using someone’s viewing history as a guide.Illustration by The New York Times

YouTube’s success has come with a dark side. Research has shown that the site’s recommendations have systematically amplified divisive, sensationalist and clearly false videos. Other algorithms meant to capture people’s attention in order to show them more ads, like Facebook’s newsfeed, have had the same problem.

The stakes are high. YouTube faces an onslaught of misinformation and unsavory content uploaded daily. The F.B.I. recently identified the spread of fringe conspiracy theories as a domestic terror threat.

Last month, a German man uploaded a screed to YouTube saying that “invisible secret societies” use mind control to abuse children in underground bunkers. He later shot and killed nine people in a suburb of Frankfurt.

To study YouTube, Mr. Farid and another Berkeley researcher, Marc Faddoul, teamed up with Guillaume Chaslot, a former Google engineer who helped develop the recommendation engine and now studies it.

Since October 2018, the researchers have collected recommendations that appeared alongside videos from more than 1,000 of YouTube’s most popular and recommended news-related channels, making their study among the longest and most in-depth examinations of the topic. They then trained an algorithm to rate, on a scale from 0 to 1, the likelihood that a given video peddled a conspiracy theory, including by analyzing its comments, transcript and description.

Here are six of the most recommended videos about politics in the study

“The Trump Presidency- Prophetic Projections and Patterns”

“This is The End Game! Trump is part of their Plan! Storm is Coming 2019-2020”

“What You’re Not Supposed to Know About America’s Founding”

“Rosa Koire. UN Agenda 2030 exposed”

“Deep State Predictions 2019: Major Data Dump with DAVID WILCOCK [Part 1]”

“David Icke discusses theories and politics with Eamonn Holmes”

Like most attempts to study YouTube, the approach has flaws. Determining which videos push conspiracy theories is subjective, and leaving it to an algorithm can lead to mistakes.

To account for errors, the researchers included in their study only videos that scored higher than 0.5 on the likelihood scale. They also discounted many videos based on their rating: Videos with a 0.75 rating, for example, were worth three-quarters of a conspiracy-theory recommendation in the study.

The recommendations were also collected without logging into a YouTube account, which isn’t how most people use the site. When logged in, recommendations are personalized based on people’s viewing history. But researchers have been unable to recreate personalized recommendations at scale, and as a result have struggled to study them.

That challenge has deterred other studies. Arvind Narayanan, a computer science professor at Princeton University, said that he and his students abandoned research on whether YouTube could radicalize users because they couldn’t examine personalized recommendations. Late last year, Mr. Narayanan criticized a similar study — which concluded that YouTube hardly radicalized users — because it studied only logged-out recommendations, among other issues.

Mr. Narayanan reviewed the Berkeley study at request of The New York Times and said it was valid to study the rate of conspiracy-theory recommendations over time, even when logged out. But without examining personalized recommendations, he said, the study couldn’t offer conclusions about the impact on users.

“To me, a more interesting question is, ‘What effect does the promotion of conspiracy videos via YouTube have on people and society?’” Mr. Narayanan said in an email. “We don’t have good ways to study that question without YouTube’s cooperation.”

Mr. Shadloo of YouTube questioned the study’s findings because the research focused on logged-out recommendations, which he reiterated doesn’t represent most people’s experience. He also said the list of channels the study used to collect recommendations was subjective and didn’t represent what’s popular on the site. The researchers said they chose the most popular and recommended news-related channels.

The study highlights a potpourri of paranoia and delusion. Some videos claim that angels are hidden beneath the ice in Antarctica (1.3 million views); that the government is hiding technologies like levitation and wireless electricity (5.5 million views); that footage of dignitaries reacting to something at George Bush’s funeral confirms a major revelation is coming (1.3 million views); and that photos from the Mars rover prove there was once civilization on the planet (850,000 views).

Here are six of the most recommended videos about supernatural phenomena in the study

“Why NASA never went back to the moon…”


“Nikola Tesla – Limitless Energy & the Pyramids of Egypt”

“If This Doesn’t Make You a Believer, I Doubt Anything Will”

“The Revelation Of The Pyramids (Documentary)”

“Oldest Technologies Scientists Still Can’t Explain”

Often the videos run with advertising, which helps finance the creators’ next production. YouTube also takes a cut.

Some types of conspiracy theories were recommended less and less through 2019, including videos with end-of-the-world prophecies.

One video viewed 600,000 times and titled “Could Emmanuel Macron be the Antichrist?” claimed there were signs that the French president was the devil and that the end-time was near. (Some of its proof: He earned 66.06 percent of the vote.)

In December 2018 and January 2019, the study found that YouTube recommended the video 764 times in the “Up next” playlist of recommendations that appeared alongside videos analyzed in the study. Then the recommendations abruptly stopped.

Videos promoting QAnon, the pro-Trump conspiracy theory that claims “deep state” pedophiles control the country, had thousands of recommendations in early 2019, according to the study. Over the past year, YouTube has sharply cut recommendations of QAnon videos, the results showed, in part by seemingly avoiding some channels that push the theory.

This is the share of recommendations of different types of conspiracies

Most conspiracy-theory videos recommended were labeled in one of three categories: Alternative science and history; prophecies and online cults; and political conspiracies and QAnon.

Alternative Science and History

Alternative science and history

Source: Hany Farid and Marc Faddoul at University of California, Berkeley, and Guillaume Chaslot

While YouTube recommends such videos less, it still hosts many of them on its site. For some topics like the moon landing and climate change, it now aims to undercut debunked claims by including Wikipedia blurbs below videos.

One video, a Fox News clip titled “The truth about global warming,” which was recommended 15,240 times in the study, illustrates YouTube’s challenge in fighting misinformation. YouTube has said it has tried to steer people to better information by relying more on mainstream channels, but sometimes those channels post discredited views. And some videos are not always clear-cut conspiracy theories.

In the Fox News video, Patrick Michaels, a scientist who is partly funded by the fossil-fuel industry, said that climate change was not a threat because government forecasts are systematically flawed and sharply overstate the risk.

Various scientists dispute Mr. Michaels’s views and point to data that show the forecasts have been accurate.

Mr. Michaels “does indeed qualify as a conspiracy theorist,” said Andrew Dessler, a climate scientist at Texas A&M University. “The key is not just that his science is wrong, but that he packages it with accusations that climate science is corrupt.”

“Everything I said in the video is a fact, not a matter of opinion,” Mr. Michaels responded. “The truth is very inconvenient to climate activists.”

Yet many of the conspiracy theories YouTube continues to recommend come from fringe channels.

Consider Perry Stone, a televangelist who preaches that patterns in the Bible can predict the future, that climate change is not a threat and that world leaders worship the devil. YouTube’s recommendations of his videos have steadily increased, steering people his way nearly 8,000 times in the study. Many of his videos now collect hundreds of thousands of views each.

“I am amused that some of the researchers in nonreligious academia would consider portions of my teaching that link biblical prophecies and their fulfillment to this day and age, as a mix of off-the-wall conspiracy theories,” Mr. Stone said in an email. Climate change, he said, had simply been rebranded: “Men have survived Noah’s flood, Sodom’s destruction, Pompeii’s volcano.”

As for the claim that world leaders are “Luciferian,” the information “was given directly to me from a European billionaire,” he said. “I will not disclose his information nor his identity.”


Weather folklore: Do major weather events happen in 7-year cycles?




Weather folklore: Do major weather events happen in 7-year cycles?

SAVANNAH, Georgia (WSAV) — The weather is cyclonic: churning areas with high and low pressure systems bringing tropical cyclones, tornadoes, thunderstorms, coastal flooding, ice and snow storms, and even extreme heat around the world.

Weather patterns change. We see this every day, but usually longer, decadal changes are caused by ocean and atmospheric interactions. One of the more famous cycles is called ENSO (aka El Niño-Southern Oscillation).

There are two phases of ENSO: El Niño, the warm phase, or La Niña, the cold phase. We talk about this cycle during hurricane season with how El Niños or La Niñas can affect tropical systems.

South Carolina Emergency Officials held a press conference last week about preparing for the winter weather. They said that while severe winter weather is rare here, it masquerades as the ice storm of 2014. This 7 year old example reminded me of weather folklore – weather comes in 7 year cycles.

ENSO events take place in the Pacific every 3-7 years, with El Niño or La Niña lasting up to 1 year. This is where the folklore of the 7-year cycle comes from. Every event brings with it a change in weather patterns.

El Niño vs La Niña

Normally in the Pacific, trade winds along the equator blow from east to west, bringing warm water to Asia with cold water upwelling to replace the missing warm water off South America. El Niño and La Niña patterns try to change this normality and eventually change global weather patterns.

As an El Niño develops, the trade winds weaken. This allows warm water to be returned to the east instead. In a La Niña pattern, stronger-than-normal easterly trade winds are able to push even more warm water into Asia. This leads to a stronger upwelling of colder, deeper ocean water being brought to the surface.

Warm water near the equator affects not only where the jet stream sits, but also the weather patterns it propels. During an El Niño, warm water causes the Jet Stream to move further south, making the southeast wetter and cooler than usual.

During a La Niña pattern, cold water pushes the Jet Stream further north, making the south warmer and drier than usual. It could trigger a more severe hurricane season.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, La Niña conditions are currently developing in the Pacific Ocean.

7-year weather cycles: 2021-2008

Now let’s test whether the myth of the 7-year cycle is true. I looked back from 2021-2008 to see if there would be correlations for winter storms, extreme heat, coastal flooding and severe weather over a 3-7 year period and then compared it to a possible El Niño and La Niña pattern at the time.

From 2008 to 2021, there have been only 2 instances of a 7-year weather pattern. Around July 4 earlier this year, we were dealing with Tropical Storm Elsa. 7 years earlier, in 2014, we were tracking Hurricane Arthur around the same time. The other example was the winter storms of 2018 and 2011, both of which occurred in early January.

Most recurring events occur every 3-4 years, with the exception of severe spring storms that happen in April almost every year.

Winter Storm January 3, 2018 La Nina
Winter Storm February 11-13, 2014 Neutral
Winter Storm January 28-29, 2014 Neutral
Winter Storm January 10, 2011 Major La Nina
Winter Storm February 12-13, 2010 El Nino
Extreme heat 25-31 May 2019 Neutral
Extreme heat August 2016 Neutral
Extreme heat July – August 2010 Early La Nina
Floods on the coast Nov 3-11 2021 Early La Nina
Floods on the coast December 22-24, 2019 Neutral
Floods on the coast November 28, 2018 Early El Nino
Floods on the coast Sep 25 – Oct 7, 2015 Reinforcement of El Niño
Severe Wx / Heavy Rain April 23, 2020 Neutral
Severe Wx / Heavy Rain April 19, 2020 Neutral
Severe Wx / Tornadoes April 13, 2020 Neutral
Heavy rain June 10-12, 2019 Neutral
Serious Wx April 19, 2019 El Nino
severe thunderstorms Apr 3, 2017 Neutral
severe thunderstorms June 17, 2016 Neutral
severe thunderstorms April 25, 2015 Early El Nino
severe thunderstorms Apr 19, 2015 Early El Nino

El Niño and La Niña cycles create larger-scale weather patterns. It does have some impact on our day-to-day weather, but we see more of their impact in colder or warmer temperatures and wetter or drier patterns over a longer period of time.

Hurricane-season storms thrive when we’re below a La Niña, as this pattern leads to weaker wind shear and less atmospheric stability. The record-breaking 2020 hurricane season started under neutral conditions, but as we saw last year, storms increased rapidly as conditions in La Niña strengthened towards the end of the season.

While swirling areas of high and low pressure cause different weather patterns in the Coastal Empire and Lowcountry, the weather is still unpredictable weeks to years in advance. With winter storms happening here every 3-4 years with a La Niña setup under a La Niña, does that mean we’ll be getting one soon? I think we just have to wait.

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AND vs TT Live Score Dream11 Prediction Lineup EuroCup 2021-22 MoraBanc Andorra vs Turk Telekom




AND vs TT Live Score

Another great battle is coming up to keep everyone entertained. The battle between MoraBanc Andorra (AND) and Turk Telekom (TT) will deliver some brilliant moments that will amaze everyone in the world. So EuroCup 2021-22 is already entertaining everyone by introducing some great fights between great teams.

AND vs TT Live Score

There are several teams that play with full courage and try their best in every match to get the title of the league. Here we provide AND vs TT Dream11 prediction that helps every fan to get some important details of both teams and all players in both teams.

AND vs TT match details

  • Match: MoraBanc Andorra (AND) vs Turk Telekom (TT), EuroCup 2021-22
  • Location: Poliesportiu DAndorra
  • Date and time: Thursday, December 9, 2021, 12:30 PM IST

Speaking of the teams’ performance, MoraBanc Andorra (AND) is in 5th position on the points table. In the league, the team plays all the matches very well and shows that they are perfect to win all the matches they will play in the same league. Let’s also tell you that they played 5 matches in which they got 3 wins and 2 defeats.

On this side, Turk Telekom (TT) is a very good competitor for AND in the ensuing match. All the players of the team are ready to face the toughest battle against all competitors in the tournament. The team played a total of 5 matches in which they took 3 wins and 2 defeats.

It will actually be very interesting to see what will happen in the upcoming match. Both teams are great to play against and take out to improve their stats in the league.

AND vs TT Probable Lineups

MoraBanc Andorra Possible play 8: Clevin Hannah, Codi Miller-Mcintyre, Drew Crawford, Oriol Pauli, David Jelinek, Babatunde Olumuyiwa, Conor Morgan and Victor Arteaga.

Turk Telekom May Play 8: Alex Perez, Aaron Harrison, Anthony Clemmons, Aubrey Dawkins, Dorukhan Engindeniz, Samet Geyik, Octavius ​​Ellis and Jajuan Johnson/Melih Dogan.

When we talk about the teams’ chances of winning, MoraBanc Andorra (AND) has more chances to get a very big win by playing the Turk Telekom (TT) match. The ensuing match will be truly amazing for all fans to watch as both teams try their best to hold onto the trophy by beating the competitor. Here we will update AND vs TT Live Scores that help everyone to know more about the live results during the match

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Man receives double win after accidentally playing the same numbers twice in lottery




Man receives double win after accidentally playing the same numbers twice in lottery

FAYETTEVILLE, NC (Gray News) — An accidental double purchase turned out to be a blessing for a man in North Carolina.

Scotty Thomas bought two identical Lucky for Life raffle tickets in Saturday’s drawing, according to the North Carolina Education Lottery.

“I was just in bed watching a basketball game on TV and couldn’t remember if I had filled it in or not,” said Thomas, a 49-year-old dump truck driver. “I went ahead and re-entered it and the next morning my son asked why there were two different amounts. I realized, ‘I think I filled it in twice.’”

Turns out that “mistake” turned into double wins.

Thomas received two emails notifying him of each winning ticket.

“When I realized I had won, I had to lie down on the floor because I really couldn’t believe it,” said Thomas. “It’s just a blessing.”

He was faced with several options to collect his winnings when he arrived at the lottery headquarters on Monday.

Thomas was able to take both prizes as an annuity and receive $50,000 each year for the rest of his life.

He could get a prize of $25,000 a year for the rest of his life; and the second as a lump sum of $390,000.

Or he can take both as flat-rate prizes, a total of $780,000.

According to the NCEL, Thomas decided to pay both prices at once so that he could invest in his business, pay some bills, help his family and possibly buy a house.

In the end, he took home $551,851 after required federal and state tax withholdings.

Lucky for Life is one of four lottery games in North Carolina where players have the option to purchase their tickets through Online Play, either through the lottery website or with the official NC Lottery mobile app.

Copyright 2021 Gray Media Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


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