Youtube has come a long way in regards to how it handles content around the novel COVID-19 virus that has plagued the world recently. Youtube is now taking steps to ensure those searching for information about the virus come across reliable information from verified sourced. In this regard, the streaming platform announced Friday that they’re launching a dedicated hub on the YouTube home page for stories related to the coronavirus outbreak.
For YouTube, the dedicated shelf is a means of promoting “authoritative content” to users. The content displayed on the new shelf appears to come mostly from national news publications or outlets like The Guardian, Sky News, and others. It will be rolling out in 16 countries with more on the way, according to the company’s tweet.
A tweet from the YouTuber Insider account confirmed the new decision, which is likely to help curb the spread of misinformation and “fake news” on the spread of the highly contagious virus. YouTube didn’t specify which 16 countries will have access to the new panel but confirmed that it will expand to more countries over the coming days and weeks. It appears to be live in the UK, US, and Canada.
“We want everyone to have access to authoritative content during this trying time, so we’re launching a COVID-19 news shelf on our homepage in 16 countries. We’ll expand to more countries, as well.”
The feature has also rolled out for desktop for the same countries with more locations to follow just like the mobile update.
Youtube’s initial response to videos of COVID-19 was rather appalling. The platform at the start indicated that it considered the topic as a sensitive one, which it describes in its policy guidelines as any recent event with a “loss of life, typically as a result of a pre-planned malicious attack.” These videos were not considered suitable for advertising so were demonetized and in most demonetization cases, the video will not be shown to users, even to channel subscribers. While they are allowed to stay on YouTube because they don’t violate the content guidelines, creators can’t make money from the platform’s built-in ad service.
Youtube later changed its views about the matter and started allowing videos talking about the virus to be monetized.
The new feature Youtube is pushing out follows other similar feature implementations on other social media platforms like Instagram where home page changes are made to promote coronavirus awareness.
YouTube has had its fair share of issues with promoting unsavory videos and conspiracy theories on its home page during past breaking news situations, and the news shelf may offer a way for the company to keep a stronger editorial hand on videos touching on the pandemic.