YouTube: More than half a million Covid-19 misinformation videos removed

More than half a million misinformation videos about coronavirus have been removed by YouTube in the past 12 months, the Google-owned platform’s boss has said.

Concerns around misinformation have been exacerbated by the pandemic, forcing tech giants to re-examine their rules against false claims such as suggestions the virus is a hoax or promoting medically unsubstantiated cures.

“We’ve continued to make updates to our Covid-19 policies to stay current with the science, and we’ve removed more than half a million videos under these policies since February,” said YouTube chief executive Susan Wojcicki.

“Now our focus has turned toward the possibilities ahead with vaccination.”

In October, the video-sharing site expanded its Covid-19 medical misinformation policy to ban content about vaccines that contradicts what is said by official health authorities, such as the World Health Organisation (WHO).

YouTube has seen overall usage jump during the pandemic, as many look for information and entertainment during lockdowns.

During the first quarter of last year, YouTube said it experienced a 25% increase in watch-time around the world.

In the first half of the year, total daily livestreams also increased by 45%.

“The pandemic has accelerated our digital lives,” Ms Wojcicki said.

“We’re always working to strike the right balance between openness and responsibility as we meet the guidelines set by governments around the world.”