YouTube isn’t exactly the first place most of us go to for news. But with the rise of video streaming and preference for audio-visual media, the video platform has taken on a television-like role. Fifty-three percent of Filipinos surveyed by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism recently said they get their news from YouTube. However, the people behind the Google-owned platform are now worried about the information we get from there, especially about COVID-19.
In a statement released this week, YouTube’s chief product officer Neal Mohan said over a million COVID-19-related videos have been taken down since February 2020. These include false cures and claims that COVID-19 is a hoax.
“In the midst of a global pandemic, everyone should be armed with absolutely the best information available to keep themselves and their families safe,” Mohan said.
But how does YouTube do it? For one, according to Mohan, when people now search for news or information, they get results optimized for quality, not for how sensational the content might be.
Tagging false information about an evolving science, though, is not exactly an easy job. YouTube enlists the help of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) to track the science as it develops. But the streaming giant admits that in most other cases, misinformation is less clear-cut.
Today, YouTube takes down 10 million videos a quarter. “It’s not just what we take down, but how we treat all the content we leave up that gives us the best path forward,” Mohan prefaces his statement.