When someone searches for health-related terms (such as “COVID-19”) on YouTube, most results now highlight content from government agencies and healthcare organizations that the platform believes can provide reliable information.The World Health Organization, the Mayo Clinic and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia are among the Guidelines Developed by a team of experts.
YouTube stated that the new approach is the first step in a larger strategy. The goal is to provide people with the preferred source of reliable answers to health questions, just as they currently use the site to “learn how to fix my refrigerator,” said Garth Graham, director of health care and public affairs and global head. Google and YouTube’s health and an associate professor at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine. Many misinformation and public health experts applaud this commitment, but some worry that recent changes have not fully addressed the complexity of health behaviors and the controversial nature of medical knowledge.
For example, the new policy does not affect the ranking algorithm of the platform, which has become a notorious source Medical misinformation Although before effort Conspiracy theories on ruling websites. YouTube helped spread Rumor has it that hydroxychloroquine Is an effective treatment for COVID-19 and hosted Disgraced documentary plague, Which shows that the pandemic was planned. Before YouTube shut it down, the vaccine did not work and the mask “activated” the coronavirus. Instead, videos from reliable sources appear in a special section, separate from the normal search results selected by the ranking algorithm.
Joan Donovan, research director of the Shorenstein Center for Media, Politics, and Public Policy at Harvard University, said that these changes also failed to address YouTube’s role in the multi-platform misinformation ecosystem. For example, many viewers access misinformation on YouTube through links or videos posted on Facebook groups or Twitter.
According to a company spokesperson, since May 2020, YouTube has banned content that contradicts COVID-19 information from WHO or local health authorities, and has removed more than 1 million violations of its medical errors regarding COVID-19 Information policy video. The focus of the new changes is not to eliminate misinformation, but to emphasize reliable sources.They follow Peer-reviewed discussion paper This was written by a team of six experts and was published by the National Academy of Medical Sciences last month. YouTube provided US$100,000 to fund the project.
The author determined that the “credibility” of the source of health information depends on three basic principles. First, the source should provide content based on the best available scientific evidence. Second, it should promote objectivity by taking measures to reduce conflicts of interest and prejudice. Finally, the source needs to disclose its own limitations and errors to ensure transparency and accountability.
YouTube is using these survey results as criteria to identify credible governments and healthcare organizations. Videos produced by reliable media appear in a special section that the company currently calls the “healthy content shelf”, which appears at or near the top of hundreds of health-related query results. (When testing this feature on the platform, the special part will only be displayed for certain users at certain times.) The videos of these channels are also marked with a message, which briefly explains why the source is credible. In practice, this means that channels owned by certain government agencies, accredited educational and medical institutions, and academic and medical journals are competing for new digital assets on the world’s second busiest website.
Donovan said these changes marked “a huge development in the company’s vision of itself.” They stated that YouTube is seeking to become an “important source of information” rather than a digital version of the “free trash can of record stores”. However, some experts worry that identifying and promoting healthcare organizations and government agencies will not achieve the desired effect of encouraging people to view more accurate information.
Corey Basch, a public health researcher at William Paterson University, said: “I’m just not sure if people will use YouTube to see more scientists or people who are identified as credible or authoritative.” Her research on YouTube and TikTok shows that Compared with the content of creators who have won the trust of the community on the platform, the frequency of viewing of videos produced by official organizations is often much lower. She said the move will not help resolve the “not baseless” mistrust of many institutions that have been promoted by the changes. Basch believes that the problem is much deeper than getting the facts. “Sometimes we overlook the point that human emotions and behaviors are usually rooted in social and emotional factors, rather than cognitive factors,” she said. Graham acknowledged that “people trust sources for different reasons,” and that information that is not from “culturally relevant” sources is unlikely to lead to changes in behavior. He said that YouTube plans to collaborate with independent creators to produce engaging and reliable medical content, but he will not discuss the plan in detail.
Sven Bernecker is a philosopher at the University of California, Irvine, who studies fake news and how medical knowledge is accepted and put into practice. He said that the recommendations of this discussion paper benefit mature sources and may strengthen existing power and influence structures in the healthcare system. In addition, he suggested that the paper’s emphasis on scientific consensus obscured disagreements about what conclusions should be drawn from research and clinical experience. Bernecker explained that its recommendations are in line with the popular saying that science is an objective means of identifying a single truth.
Even the group members who wrote the recommendations stated that the information reached through scientific consensus does not necessarily represent objective facts. Zhou Wenying, a member of the expert group and project director of the National Cancer Institute, said that the author “struggles” on the concept of consensus among medical experts—especially knowing that historically, powerful institutions have excluded certain marginalized groups and ideas from participating in these discuss. This is one of the reasons why they concluded that credibility should be determined as a whole rather than based on quantitative indicators. “Unable to implement a formal digital threshold [because it is not] Feasible,” Zhou said. Each of the three principles defined in the discussion paper is accompanied by several attributes developed by the author to help assess the source. For example, it provides one of the eight attributes for the “science-based” principle It is “combining information from multiple sources, not a single source. “
It is not clear whether YouTube actually created a strict digital standard to determine which organizations are considered credible.In a statement Scientific American, A company spokesperson stated that the process began with the use of discussion paper guidelines to compile a list of organizations. The spokesperson said: “We started with organizations with pre-existing standardized review mechanisms, such as healthcare organizations, educational institutions, public health agencies, and government organizations.” Before confirming their choices with the American Public Health Association, the company inspected Which organizations have YouTube accounts.
“This world full of health misinformation is heinous,” said Zhou, whose background is in public health. “Many of our assumptions about communication and human behavior have been challenged. There is still a lot of research to be done.”