YouTube announced that it has removed more than 1 million videos with misinformation, rumors or lies about COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic in February 2020. Among the deleted content are promises of false cures and conspiracy theories, such as the one in that the virus is a scam.
The number is impressive for its volume, but it may seem small compared to the more than 2 billion monthly users of the platform, the biggest source of videos on the internet. With an eye on this huge audience, many extremist groups are dedicated to spreading all sorts of disinformation to confuse laypeople.
In January, Google’s platform claimed to have banned more than 500,000 videos for spreading lies, numbers that have now doubled. This difference, according to the platform, is the result of the difficulty of measuring removal statistics with this large size, in addition to not having considered data from the last five months – from the beginning of the year until now, many false news about the vaccines emerged.
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According to YouTube’s own data, about 10 million videos are removed each quarter for violating the site’s policies in general. Combating misinformation is a relatively new “category” for the platform, created especially to curb the spread of rumors and ineffective therapies against the disease.
freedom yes, no abuse
As a social network, the platform gives creators total freedom to produce their content, but it needs to moderate on topics such as discrimination, hate speech, harassment, child abuse and exploitation, videos of murders in passing, conspiracy theories and other topics that win terrain on the web.
These people have the potential to viralize this type of material to spread their ideals. As there is a gigantic library on YouTube, the platform can take some time to remove inappropriate videos and this gap could be enough to generate panic or traumatize a lot of people.
YouTube’s announcement shows that the web lacks more effective content moderation mechanisms, after all, no company is able to deal with misinformation in the way it is being created. The reflection remains: could excessive freedom today lead to a generalized lack of credibility in the future? How is modern society going to deal with this?
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