YouTube to add link on COVID-19 vaccines to curb spread of misinformation

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Alphabet Inc’s YouTube said on Tuesday it is adding a link to furnish users with information on the development of COVID-19 vaccines to the coronavirus panel on its site, expanding its efforts to tackle misinformation related to the pandemic. The link will redirect users to authoritative COVID-19 vaccine information from a third-party source like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the World Health Organization (WHO), the company said in a statement.

Conspiracy theorist and anti-vaccine personalities are increasingly dominating the social media space through viral videos shares across multiple platforms. Last week, a study conducted in the United States and Britain found conspiracy theories and misinformation fuel mistrust in vaccines and result in reducing levels that potential COVID-19 vaccines are taken below the rates needed to protect communities against the disease. In October, the video platform reported that it would remove videos containing misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines, and ban any content with claims that contradict consensus from local health authorities or the WHO.

Different social media portals have dealt with this misinformation spread in different ways. As on March 18th, 2020, Facebook started Coronavirus (COVID-19) Information Center, which appears at the top of News Feed, to provide a central place for people to get the latest news and information as well as resources and tips. It has banned ads for products related to COVID-19 and any search redirects the user to the official WHO page. It has also launched the Messenger Coronavirus Community Hub with tips and resources to keep people connected to their friends, family, colleagues, and community, and prevent the spread of misinformation.

Facebook has pledged $100-million to support fact-checking initiatives of newsrooms, in addition to the previous grants made to local news and fact-checkers. It is also offering $25 million in the form of an emergency grant for local news through the Facebook Journalism Project. Whatsapp announced to impose a strict new limit on message forwarding and if a message has already been forwarded many times, users will only be able to send it to one chat at a time rather than five, as was the case before. Twitter also redirects users to official websites and updated guidelines to ban tweets that could lead to higher transmission.

YouTube’s move on Tuesday is in light of positive news received through promising results from two major vaccine efforts. Moderna Inc said on Monday its experimental COVID-19 vaccine is more than 94.5% effective based on interim data from late-stage trials. Last week, Pfizer Inc said its vaccine was shown to be more than 90% effective.