Social Media

Alex Winter: Is The YouTube Effect Good or Bad on Balance?

A new documentary film argues that the second-largest website on the planet is flooded with misinformation. Is that right?


Today's episode is an audio version of The Reason Livestreamwhich takes place every Thursday at 1 p.m. Eastern on Reason's YouTube channel.

The guest this week was actor and filmmaker Alex Winter, whose new documentary is The YouTube Effect, an in-depth look at the ways in which that video site has radically altered how we produce and consume politics, culture, and ideas. In past documentaries, Winter investigated Napster and its users; told the story of Ross Ulbricht, the creator of the Silk Road dark web site; and profiled the life and legacy of rock musician and free expression activist Frank Zappa.

In The YouTube Effect, Winter traces the rise of YouTube from its launch in 2005 to its status as the second-most-visited website on the planet, behind only its corporate owner, Google. My co-host Zach Weissmueller and I talk with him about his concerns about polarization and disinformation in a lively and spirited conversation about the future of free speech and creative expression.