YouTube has been forced to respond to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic in more ways than one – taking steps to limit the spread of fake news, while lifting a little bit of strain away from the internet.
The Alphabet-owned video streaming platform has introduced a row of COVID-19-related videos to its homepage, displaying content from ‘authoritative’ news outlets and health organisations in a bid to provide users with more reliable information about the virus. The section will initially be launched in countries including the US, UK, France, Germany, Italy, India, Japan, and Brazil.
“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,” YouTube tweeted. “We’ll expand to more countries, as well.”
YouTube is just the latest in a line of social media companies that are working to prevent coronavirus misinformation spreading and causing more damage on top of the harm the virus is already doing. Facebook is clamping down on people selling products – such as masks and hand sanitisers – for extortionate prices and also cracking down on ads for products which claim to cure COVID-19. Meanwhile, Twitter is removing potentially damaging fake news about the virus, and WhatsApp has partnered with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the World Health Organization (WHO), and UNICEF to launch a ‘Coronavirus Information Hub’.
YouTube has also followed in the footsteps of others (well, one other) within the European Union and said it will reduce its streaming quality across the bloc to prevent a strain on the internet as thousands of people are forced to start working from home and/or self-isolating. This comes shortly after Netflix said it would do the same and stop enabling streaming in high definition within the EU for at least the next month.