CM – YouTube reworks health-related videos while Biden criticizes social media

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Graham, a former health insurance manager, was hired by YouTube earlier this year to lead a new initiative to highlight and produce these videos

YouTube comes to life with the help of a nonprofit group days after President Joe Biden broke into social media for “killing people” by spreading falsehoods about vaccines.

YouTube, part of Google by Alphabet Inc., announced the changes on Monday morning. Under certain health-related videos, the company will be adding bulletin boards such as those currently found at the end of clips on popular conspiracy theory topics such as the moon landing. YouTube will also begin to display selected videos more prominently on the site as users search for health terms, much like it now covers certain news topics.

For both the material in these panels and its ranking system, YouTube said it would be based on an updated set of online information review guidelines from the National Academy of Medicine, a non-governmental organization.

« These health resource principles are the first of their kind, » wrote Garth Graham, director of health care at YouTube, in a blog post. « We hope that other companies will review and consider how these principles work with their own products and platforms. »

Graham, a former health insurance manager, was hired by YouTube earlier this year to lead a new highlighting and production effort for these videos.

Like the social networks Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc., YouTube has endeavored to better moderate its deluge of user-generated media to deal with misinformation about Covid-19 and vaccines. The platform has removed thousands of videos for violating its misinformation rules since the pandemic began, leading to criticism of censorship, especially from the political right.

Still, the Biden administration launched an offensive against tech companies to vaccinate more Americans, and the surgeon general released a health misinformation report. And on Friday, Biden criticized social networks for their role in spreading anti-vaccination materials.

Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar said Sunday that misinformation on social media about vaccines is making her demand to change the standards of liability for what is posted on her platforms more urgent.

« YouTube is removing content in accordance with our Covid-19 misinformation policy, » the company said. « We are also downgrading marginal videos and prominently showing relevant content for Covid-19-related search results, recommendations and context fields. »

The company said it would continue to work with health organizations and other medical experts to prevent the spread of misinformation.

Twitter also said it would do its part to « increase authoritative health information, » while Facebook expanded its defenses over the weekend with a blog explaining how it wasn’t to blame for the missed target of US vaccinations can take.

« At a time when Covid-19 cases in America are on the rise, the Biden government has decided to blame a handful of American social media companies, » said Guy Rosen, Facebook’s vice president of integrity, in the Contribution. « Facebook is not the reason this goal was missed. »

YouTube has also argued that it doesn’t work like social networks in that it doesn’t offer the same type of viral sharing. But its algorithm feeds the majority of the videos viewed on the site to people.

The surgeon general’s report didn’t mention YouTube by name, but did cite a recent academic study examining vaccine information on YouTube. According to the study, pro-vaccine videos have been appearing higher in YouTube’s search rankings since the end of 2019. But once viewers see an anti-vaccine video, the YouTube system ends up exposing them to more of it, it added.

A YouTube spokesperson said the company had been working on these recent changes since February. They’ll first come to viewers in the US, and the company plans to add more countries.

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