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YouTube is experimenting with Notes, a crowdsourced feature that lets users add context to videos
June 19, 2024

YouTube is experimenting with Notes, a crowdsourced feature that lets users add context to videos

Reading Time: 2 minutes

The Google-owned company says the feature can be used for things like clarifying when a song is meant to be a parody, or letting viewers know when older footage is being portrayed as a current event. 

The launch comes during a pivotal U.S. election year. While misinformation was a significant issue during the 2020 presidential election, misinformation during the 2024 election is poised to be even more of a problem thanks to the rise of generative AI. With this new feature, YouTube is likely looking to minimize the spread of misinformation on its platform.

To start, the pilot will be available on mobile in the U.S. in English. 

YouTube acknowledges that there will likely be mistakes during the test phase, as it anticipates that there may be notes that aren’t a great match for a video or that incorrect information may be included in a note. The company plans to learn from the test phase and is also welcoming feedback from viewers and creators on the quality of notes. 

As part of the test phase, a limited number of users will be invited to write notes. Eligible users will have an active YouTube channel in good standing. 

Viewers in the U.S. will start to see notes on videos in the coming weeks and months. During the initial pilot, third-party evaluators will rate the helpfulness of and accuracy of notes. YouTube will use these responses to train its systems. 

If the third-party evaluators find notes to be helpful, they will appear under a video. Viewers will then be asked if they think the note is ‘helpful,’ ‘somewhat helpful,’ or ‘unhelpful.’ They’ll be asked why they think a note is helpful or unhelpful. For instance, a person can say they found a note to be helpful because it cited high-quality sources or because it was written in a neutral way.

YouTube will then use an algorithm to determine which notes are published based on the ratings they have received. The algorithm will identify notes that are helpful to a broad audience. For instance, if a significant number of people who previously rated notes differently now rate a particular note as helpful, YouTube will be more likely to display that note under a video. 

The company says the system will continuously improve as more notes are submitted and rated across different types of videos on the platform. As it improves the feature, YouTube will also determine whether it makes sense to officially roll out it.


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