YouTube bans videos claiming a coronavirus vaccine will KILL recipients or be used to implant people with surveillance microchips
- YouTube already bans content with ‘medical unsubstantiated’ claims about virus
- Ir will now also take down content that promotes misinformation about a vaccine
- This includes conspiracy theories stating the vaccine will be used to kill people and inject recipients with a secret surveillance microchip
YouTube has buckled to growing pressure to clamp down further on misinformation on the video-sharing platform pertaining to the coronavirus.
In an announcement today the Google-owned site said content that ‘promotes misinformation’ about COVID-19 vaccines will be removed.
YouTube defines misinformation in this instance as anything which contradicts guidance from local health authorities or the World Health Organization.
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In an announcement today the Google-owned site states content that promotes misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines will be removed (file photo)
YouTube said in a blog post that this would include removing claims the vaccine will kill people or cause infertility.
It will also combat wild conspiracy theories that the vaccine will be used to implant microchips in people.
The ban ramps up the company’s efforts to quash swirling rumours based on fallacy. It will continue to take down ‘medical unsubstantiated’ claims about the virus.
A YouTube spokesman told Reuters that general discussions in videos about ‘broad concerns’ over the vaccine would remain on the platform.
Conspiracy theories and misinformation about the new coronavirus vaccines have proliferated on social media during the pandemic, including through anti-vaccine personalities on YouTube and through viral videos shared across multiple platforms.
Although drugmakers and researchers are working on various treatments, vaccines are at the heart of the long-term fight to stop the new coronavirus.
The coronavirus causing Covid-19 has killed more than a million people worldwide, infected more than 38 million and crippled the global economy.
YouTube says it already removes content that disputes the existence or transmission of COVID-19, promotes medically unsubstantiated methods of treatment, discourages people from seeking medical care or explicitly disputes health authorities’ guidance on self-isolation or social distancing.
In its blog post, YouTube said it had removed over 200,000 videos related to dangerous or misleading COVID-19 information since early February.
Online game launched to teach people to spot fake Covid-19 news on social media
A ‘social media’ style game designed to help people spot fake news and misinformation during the coronavirus pandemic has been launched.
Researchers from Cambridge University worked in partnership with the UK government to develop the multiplatform game called ‘Go Viral!’
The browser-based game puts players in the shoes of a purveyor of fake pandemic news and the aim is to build your notoriety amongst other peddlers of piffle.
Developers say it gives people a taste of some of the techniques used to spread fake news so they can better spot – and disregard – such information in future.
The company also said it was limiting the spread of COVID-19 related misinformation on the site, including certain borderline videos about COVID-19 vaccines.
A spokesman declined to provide examples of such borderline content.
YouTube said it would be announcing more steps in the coming weeks to emphasise authoritative information about COVID-19 vaccines on the site.
It is the latest move of many by various ‘Big Tech’ companies to stamp out misinformation which spreads like wildfire on social media.
Platforms such a Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp and YouTube act as an amplifier for plainly untrue allegations, gathering support.
Campaigners have long tried to get the companies to take action to prevent this, in the interest of public safety.
However, defining what does and does not violate the guidelines, enforcing it and monitoring it has proved difficult.
Last month, YouTube started displaying fact-check information panels to users in the UK, in an attempt to stop the spread of misinformation on the video platform.
UK users will start seeing the independent, fact-checked information from third-party organisations on the Google-owned platform from Thursday.
Panels will appear above search results, offering ‘more context’ and links to reputable sources of information relating to whatever users are searching for.
This could include subjects that have recently been mired by damaging conspiracy theories, such as 5G, vaccinations and the current coronavirus pandemic.
Panels will include fact checks from trusted organisations such as BBC Reality Check, Full Fact, Ferret Fact Service and FactCheckNI.
WHAT ARE TECH COMPANIES DOING ABOUT COVID-19?
The social network is giving the World Health Organisation as many free ads as it needs in a bid to get accurate health information to users of the platform as clearly as possible.
It also launched the ‘Coronavirus Information Centre’ – a dedicated webpage with COVID-19 resources and advice.
This is being promoted at the top of users’ News Feeds, directing them to the latest updates and guidance from the NHS and WHO.
Facebook is also making its Workplace platform available to governments and emergency services for free in a bid to help those dealing with the coronavirus.
All government organisations globally, at a national or local level, are eligible to claim 12 months of free access to the premium tier of Workplace.
Twitter also recently resolved to delete tweets from its site that promote conspiracy theories, misleading or dangerous advice and other harmful ideas relating to coronavirus.
Tweets that deny ‘established scientific facts’ and expert guidance regarding the virus will be marked as harmful and removed, the site said in a blog post.
It gave examples of inaccurate tweets that would be deleted swiftly, including ‘people with dark skin are immune to COVID-19 due to melanin production’, ‘use aromatherapy and essential oils to prevent COVID-19’ and ‘the news about washing your hands is propaganda for soap companies, stop washing your hands!’.
Google also teamed up with WHO to launch an SOS Alert dedicated to the coronavirus, which appears at the top of search results when users type ‘coronavirus’.
The search engine is prioritising information on the virus from the WHO, including official WHO updates on the spread of the virus and how to stay safe.
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