I never expected my YouTube channel would give me a glimpse into a particular type of world: the world of conspiracies, misinformation, disinformation, far right activity, straightforward lies, delusion, and more.
But that is what has happened.
I see it in the comments section of certain videos which appear to attract commenters with a degree of organisation and speed that leads me to reasonably conclude that some of it is organised.
That’s fine, though-people are entitled to their opinions, no matter how far-fetched, outlandish, divorced from reality, data, science, or evidence or different from mine.
But where I have the problem is when persons put forward their own “facts”. That’s where I draw the line.
Wishing facts into existence
Making statements, assertions, claims, no matter how firmly and genuine the belief is does not create facts.
You cannot wish facts into existence. Repeatedly saying something over and over, no matter how often or in what forum and regardless of format, does not make something true or create a fact.
It is still just an assertion.
The comments dilemma
I am well aware of this when I face the dilemma of publishing comments underneath my YouTube videos. I can hold all comments for approval and when the topic is one which I know will generate interest and heated comments I choose to approve all comments.
But which ones do I approve? Which ones do I remove?
The dilemma I face is if I do not publish certain outlandish comments other persons who may be influenced one way or the other will not see how delusional and misinformed some of the claims are.
And if I do publish them I face the problem of knowing I am publishing misinformation (and sometimes lies) and I am in danger of becoming part of the problem, not the solution.
There is no easy answer.
I do believe there is merit in giving some of these conspiracy theorists an outlet such as the comments page on my YouTube platform. I also believe there is a danger in doing so and it is a bigger issue than I should have to deal with on my own.
Let’s face it: Facebook and other social media sites have faced well deserved criticism about their policies in accepting advertising from groups who have manipulated the fears of the platforms’ users during certain recent elections.
And Mark Zuckerberg, and others, argue how are they supposed to be the guardians of what should and should not be published; that it is a task for governments worldwide. Which is a fair argument although some of the criticism aimed at Facebook was well justified, especially in the light of the well-publicised advertising campaigns by Trump supporters and far right groups during the United States election which saw Trump entering the White House.
Meanwhile, I still face difficult questions on a daily basis as to what I should and should not allow to be published in the comments section of my YouTube channel.