As shown in these examples, videos from recognized health sources in Brazil, India and Japan will now include an ‘accredited hospital’ or similar notifier, providing additional assurance and endorsement of the content.
Additionally, YouTube will also add a new ‘health content shelf’ at the top of the results page in each region, which will link to content from these recognized sources.
YouTube first launched these new health tools in the US last year, amid a rise in people seeking authoritative information about COVID-19. The tools give priority to content from officially recognized sources – in this case, as identified by The World Health Organization and NAM – but they don’t limit the results user see, as such. That means that users will still be able to find health info from a range of providers, but ideally, these official labels and promoted clips will help to reduce the spread of harmful misinformation in the app.
It’s an important push, especially amid the pandemic, with many people turning to YouTube for information, on a range of topics. The platform has been identified as a key source of conspiracy ‘rabbit holes’ in the past, with its video recommendations sometimes taking users into questionable territory, without them necessarily even realizing, while YouTube has also been identified as a focal platform for anti-vaxxers to spread their messaging, which can sometimes help them evade tougher restrictions on such in other apps.
For its part, YouTube has banned COVID misinformation on its platform, and has enhanced its detection and enforcement. But even so, it continues to be a source of referral links for related content, and any additional steps it can take to dilute the influence of such will help.
YouTube hasn’t provided any info on the effectiveness of the labels in the US, but the expansion suggests that it is seeing results.
YouTube further notes that it will look to expand the program to more countries ‘in the coming months’.