YouTube will introduce a new row of verified videos to its homepage for anyone trying to find authoritative news on the ongoing coronavirus story.
Pulling from a list of authoritative news outlets and local health authorities that upload to YouTube, the goal is to provide people with a source of information that is more reliable than just general videos on the subject uploaded by random users. Videos are generated algorithmically, according to YouTube, with hundreds of different signals being used to help pick videos. This includes relevancy to coronavirus, how new the videos are, and a viewer’s region.
YouTube, like other organizations, is trying to combat misinformation during the unprecedented global health crisis. Conspiracy videos falsely claiming the coronavirus is caused by 5G radiation, among other hoaxes, have been uploaded to the platform since the outbreak started in Wuhan, China at the end of 2019. The rate of new videos on the subject has only picked up speed as the novel coronavirus has spread and the volume of news about the pandemic continues to intensify.
Other social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and TikTok have instituted their own methods of combating misinformation and elevating authoritative voices. Some of the biggest technology corporations in the United States have said they’ve formed a group to try to combat misinformation and fraud related to coronavirus. The group includes Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Reddit, Twitter, and YouTube. This does not appear to be part of that initiative.
YouTube has used shelves like this in the past to elevate videos that viewers can rely on, including during massive world news events. There’s also a Breaking News shelf on the homepage that pulls from authoritative voices. Anecdotally, the shelf seems to have mostly contained COVID-19 news over the last week or so already.
YouTube’s COVID-19 shelf will initially launch in 16 countries, including the US, UK, Brazil, India, Germany, France, Italy, and Japan starting this week. The company will expand to more countries in the coming weeks.