Google-owned YouTube has removed 1 million videos related to dangerous Covid-19 misinformation, like false cures or claims of a hoax, since February 2020. According to YouTube’s Chief Product Officer Neal Mohan, if we only focus on what we remove, we’re missing the massive amount of content that people actually see.
“Bad content represents only a tiny percentage of the billions of videos on YouTube (about .16-.18 percent of total views turn out to be content that violates our policies),” he said in a blog post on Wednesday.
YouTube’s statement comes as social media platforms are under fire from political leaders for failing to stem the spread of false and harmful misinformation and disinformation about the virus.
“Misinformation has moved from the marginal to the mainstream. 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,” he emphasized.
He added that YouTube removes almost 10 million videos each quarter, “the majority of which don’t even reach 10 views.”
“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,” he said.
YouTube is ratcheting up information from trusted sources and reducing the spread of videos with harmful misinformation.
When people now search for news or information, they get results optimized for quality, not for how sensational the content might be.”
“For COVID, we rely on expert consensus from health organizations like the CDC and WHO to track the science as it develops. In most other cases, misinformation is less clear-cut,” Mohan said.
“In the midst of a global pandemic, everyone should be armed with absolutely the best information available to keep themselves and their families safe.”
YouTube also said it removed “thousands” of videos for violating election misinformation policies since the US vote in November, with three-fourths removed before hitting 100 views.