YouTube Admits It Meddled with Abortion Search Results – But Calls Downranked Videos ‘Misinformation’

BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images
BULENT KILIC/AFP/Getty Images
ALLUM BOKHARI

In a comment to the Daily Mail for a story about Breitbart News’ publication of internal discussions revealing search manipulation by the Google-owned video platform, YouTube admitted that it meddled with search results for “abortion.”

However, YouTube seems to be standing by its decision, claiming that the videos that were pushed out of the top search results for the query contained “misinformation” or “graphic content.”

Per the Daily Mail:

The spokesperson added that when the changes were made, no videos were removed from the site and the ones that were shifted ‘contained misinformation alongside graphic images’.

Breitbart News reported earlier this week on internal discussions at Google showing that YouTube added the search terms “abortion” and “abortions” to an internal “blacklist” file inside the company. The change came after a left-wing Slate writer complained about the prominence of pro-life content in the top ten search results.

Among the videos identified by the Slate writer were of congressional testimony from former abortion doctor turned pro-life activist Dr. Antony Levatino, an unidentified Ben Shapiro video, a video called “LIVE Abortion Video on Display,” and a personal story about abortion called “Abortion: My Experience” with a thumbnail adding “my biggest mistake.”

The pro-life videos she complained about disappeared from the top ten results following her complaint. These are the videos that YouTube accuses of “misinformation” and “graphic images.”

But only one of these videos, “LIVE Abortion Video on Display” fits this description, due to its graphic content.

YouTube also failed to explain how congressional testimony from Dr. Antony Levatino, a gynecologist and former abortion doctor —- also disappeared from the top ten results — could be “misinformation.”

But perhaps the most obvious contradiction to YouTube’s comment is “Abortion: My Experience,” a video that according to the Slate report, previously featured at around ninth in the search results. The video is a woman’s personal story of being pressured into an abortion by an allegedly abusive partner, and subsequently regretting the decision.

The video doesn’t feature any graphic images. As it’s a personal story, it can’t be accused of “misinformation” either. It seems disappearing the stories of women who don’t have the correct abortion experience is now YouTube’s policy.

YouTube also claimed that its new, “authoritative” search results for abortion feature pro-life and pro-abortion content. Yet as of January 13, just two of the top ten and zero of the top five search results in a non-personalized search featured pro-life content — far fewer than what was reported by the Slate journalist.

The two pro-life videos in the top ten were an anti-abortion discussion on a Muslim channel, and a 2-minute news clip from a Catholic news channel with just 500 views. The latter clip has since disappeared from the top ten, and was likely there only temporarily due to it being a recent upload.

Without organic popularity — which most of the Catholic channel’s videos do not have — it’s unlikely that many videos from the channel will remain in the top ten for very long, despite being approved by YouTube.

Allum Bokhari is the senior technology correspondent at Breitbart News. You can follow him on TwitterGab.ai and add him on Facebook. Email tips and suggestions to allumbokhari@protonmail.com.

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