YouTube said it removed more than 500,000 videos for violating its COVID-19 policies.
CEO Susan Wojcicki announced in a Jan. 26 blog that it removed over half a million videos under its COVID policies since February. The platform’s COVID-19 Medical Misinformation Policy prohibits “content about COVID-19 that poses a serious risk of egregious harm.”
Removed content primarily includes information contradicting the World Health Organization (WHO) or local health authorities. Therefore, discussions about COVID-19 treatment, prevention, diagnosis or transmission challenging information from these “authoritative sources” has not been allowed on YouTube and will be removed from its platform.
“We’ve continued to make updates to our COVID-19 policies to stay current with the science,” Wojcicki said, “and we’ve removed more than more than half a million videos under these policies since February.”
It’s not just wacky conspiracy theories being taken down either. YouTube has removed content about the coronavirus from at least two leading medical doctors and physicians. A video with former special coronavirus adviser to the president and doctor Scott Atlas, M.D, was pulled from YouTube because it "contradicts the World Health Organization or local health authorities' medical information about COVID-19," reported The Blaze. In another video discussion about COVID-19, the former chief of the WHO's cancer program Karol Sikora claimed, “fear is more deadly than the virus.” Sikora said that his talk was promptly removed from YouTube, and an appeal to have it reinstated was denied. After being pressured, YouTube eventually put the video back up, stating it was originally taken down by mistake, according to the Washington Examiner.
The removal of content about COVID-19 from licensed medical doctors, because it contradicts the WHO, is a matter of choosing one doctor’s medical opinion over another. Rather than allowing users to hear more than one opinion and decide for themselves, YouTube has taken it upon itself to make the decision for them.
“Our approach to responsibility is to remove content experts say could lead to real world harm, raise up authoritative and trusted content, reduce views of borderline content, and reward creators who meet our even higher bar for monetization,” said Wojcicki.
In addition to removing content, YouTube has also inserted content of its own “to help connect people with trusted information,” said Wojcicki. “[W]e’ve served over 400 billion impressions of information panels that relate to COVID-19.”
An outline discussing YouTube’s “information panels,” stated that the information panels contain “link[s] to information from credible sources, including Encyclopedia Britannica and Wikipedia.” Wikipedia is a crowdsourced encyclopedia that anyone can edit, managed loosely by editors who won’t allow Breitbart to be used as a source and can’t seem to keep the California GOP’s page from linking back to “Nazism.”
YouTube’s reliance on the WHO for expert medical opinions is questionable as well. The WHO has both been wrong and overly supportive of Communist China. Even as late as mid-January, the WHO was reporting faulty information that would worsen the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Manipulation of available COVID-19 content on the world’s second most popular website, according to Alexa.com, is frightening. The nature of YouTube’s manipulation is especially alarming in light of the fact that just over a quarter of all U.S. adults have said that they get their news on YouTube, according to a Sept. 2020 Pew Research Center study.
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