YouTube has removed more than 1 million videos from the platform that reportedly spread dangerous COVID-19 misinformation since February 2020.
According to a recent blog post from YouTube’s Chief Product Officer Neal Mahon, the amount of misinformation and the speed in which it spreads has dramatically changed since the start of the pandemic.
“Misinformation has moved from the marginal to the mainstream,” Mahon wrote in the blog post. “No longer contained to the sealed-off worlds of Holocaust deniers or 9-11 truthers, it now stretches into every facet of society, sometimes tearing through communities with blistering speed.”
However, Mahon also said that misinformation and other “bad content” only accounts for a very small percentage of the billions of videos on the platform.
“Bad content represents only a tiny percentage of the billions of videos on YouTube (about .16-.18% of total views turn out to be content that violates our policies),” he wrote.
Nearly 10 million videos are removed from the platform per quarter for various reasons, with Mahon asserting that “the majority of which don’t even reach 10 views.”
So basically, YouTube is removing most of the content before you’re able to view it.
Additionally, YouTube is working on how it promotes factual health information on the platform to ensure quality, informative content is being shared.
“Speedy removals will always be important but we know they’re not nearly enough. Instead, it’s how we also treat all the content we’re leaving up on YouTube that gives us the best path forward,” Mahon said.
“The most important thing we can do is increase the good and decrease the bad. That’s why at YouTube we’re ratcheting up information from trusted sources and reducing the spread of videos with harmful misinformation.”
For those wondering, YouTube cites the CDC and WHO as reputable sources of reliable and accurate COVID-19 information.
However, it’s worth noting that on a platform like YouTube — with literally billions of videos — even a small percentage of misinformation can spread far and wide, and can leak out onto other platforms where it continues to push a false narrative about a very real pandemic.
The blog post comes just weeks after Sky News Australia copped a week-long ban for pedalling COVID misinformation.