As the world’s largest video-sharing website, YouTube is dealing with massive amounts of misinformation on its platform.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, YouTube has been battling misinformation on its platform. The latest wave comes in the form of a drug that United States President Donald Trump claims is effective. Despite the lack of medical evidence, users start to share and spread this claim.
The drug in question is hydroxychloroquine, a medication that is known for malaria. However, following the claims of President Trump, the drug’s popularity has skyrocketed. Now, medical experts are warning the public about the apparent danger of taking the drug to cure COVID-19.
Spread of misinformation
Misinformation about possible COVID-19 cure is not the only problem YouTube is facing. In fact, the platform has been battling misinformation for many years. From conspiracy theorists to people believing the Earth is flat, the misinformation is wide-ranging.
NEW Research—No evidence of benefit for #chloroquine and #hydroxychloroquine in #COVID19 patients, urgent randomised trials are needed: finding from a large observational study of nearly 15,000 patients with #COVID19 & 81,000 controls https://t.co/P4YbYVhRDZ
Thread (1/4) pic.twitter.com/dxo120ngy9
— The Lancet (@TheLancet) May 22, 2020
What is alarming about the COVID-19 misinformation is its direct effect on the health of people. Because of the lack of medical evidence, health experts are warning people about taking the drug. Despite this, people are still flocking pharmacies endangering the lives of people that actually need the drug.
As a response to this flood of misinformation, the platform is taking down videos that it thinks are inappropriate. In a statement, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki says:
“Of course, anything that is medically unsubstantiated – so people saying like ‘take vitamin C, take turmeric, we’ll cure you’ – those are examples of things that would be a violation of our policy.”
The disease is spreading
As the COVID-19 pandemic surges, so does misinformation on various social media platforms. A study by Pew Research reveals that 68% of Americans are getting their news content on social media. Facebook, the largest social media website, is among the primary source of news for many people.
Without proper editorial and fact-checking, these social media platforms are prime for the spread of misinformation. This is why these platforms are where conspiracy theories usually get their start.
In order to moderate this misinformation, platforms like YouTube and Facebook rely on users flagging inappropriate content. These platforms also utilize software and army of human moderators. However, they can only do so much.
Platforms like YouTube will always be rife with misleading and inappropriate content. As such, it is always a great practice to rely on medical experts and trustworthy sources for information.
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