Its hard to imagine a time when YouTube did not exists. The ability to quickly and within a degree of accuracy learn how to install a garbage disposal in your home, to finding the most remote hiking locations in Malaysia during the month of December on an even numbered year can all be found on YouTube. YouTube has gone beyond the idea of knowledge acquisition for the individual user to a full blown entertainment, education and influential outlet for billions of people. I can't think of many people that I know who don't already have a YouTube channel or want to create one. Hell, my 10 year old son has a channel. He might not be the most active on it, but he has a channel where he could create any type of content, tag it correctly, properly describe it and he is in business. Anyone can create a channel in a few seconds.
So, as successful content creator or otherwise known as a YouTuber, I have mixed emotions about YouTube, but love my ability to provide knowledge, skills and abilities to thousands (still working on millions) of people. Most if not all of my content is focused on survival, primitive skills and bushcraft. That's what I teach and do for a living, so why not make a video to capture a different aspect of my offerings and offer it to a larger population of people. I have the vetting and validation to make a great and accurate channel.
Here in lies the problem. Just like my 10 year old son, ANYONE can create a YouTube channel. Inaccurate, flat out wrong, misleading and even dangerous information can come from YouTube channels that have no real vetting or authenticity to them. This is not the case all the time as some channels are amazing and of great value, but accuracy of information is something to consider. People, average run of the mill people have the ability to claim a level of knowledge that in some academic circles would be challenged and eventually put to rest, because of their YouTube Channel.
With a Nation completely addicted to YouTube as its primary source of random entertainment and information (we all love piano playing cats and cool magic tricks), how do we determine accurate to complete BS information. Simply really to be honest and I sniffed out these methods long ago. These methods reach back to my old days in the military as a Counterintelligence Agent to help determine the authentic to the dangerous channels. Here are three methods I use to make that call.
1. Vetting - a channel should be vetted in a away that has several layers of social and business related points of contacts or references. For example - Bob's Survival Showcase (Channel Name) should have a external website, Facebook page and some type of contact information that could put you in contact with Bob. That's at a minimum! Never trust a channel that is a single source of information. If the channel is that good and "real" they are most definitely are going to want to share through several outlets, not just on YouTube. Look for reviews and feedback from other values sources.
2. Validation - a channel should have some aspect of recognition for authenticity from similar channels, blogs, websites, viewer comments of accuracy and authenticity along with acknowledgement through other vetted and validated channels. This is huge! Think about all we do when we are looking to stay in a hotel on a vacation. We should conduct the same level of investigation in channels before we subscribe, share and apply the information from that Tube video.
3. Host or Commentator - Anyone who stands in front of the camera needs to be legit. A YouTube channel alone does not equate authenticity and accuracy of information. Hosts or commentators should have something beyond their channel like publications, books, formal education, years of field time, expeditions, magazine articles, published papers, TV appearances, formal lectures and oral presentations on the subject content. They are a SME - Subject Matter Expert, they should have something above and beyond a YouTube channel. Don't forget to fact check them!
Apply my three steps and you cant go wrong. Before you incorporate a method, best practice or concept into your daily routine that is dangerous, do your due diligence. Make sure the channel that just asked you to like, subscribe and share is not going get you killed, cause you to go broke or get you in some type of trouble. See you in the bush!