As the US Government takes aim at Facebook over its perceived lack of effort on combating medical misinformation, YouTube has unveiled its latest push on the same, with the addition of new labels on videos from authoritative health sources, and prioritized links to these clips in searches related to health concerns.
As you can see here, videos from recognized health sources on the platform will now include an 'accredited hospital' or similar notifier, providing additional assurance and endorsement of the content. And when you search for a health issue, YouTube has added a new 'health content shelf' at the top of the results page that will link to content from these recognized sources.
As per YouTube:
"These context cues are aimed at helping people more easily navigate and evaluate credible health information. People will still be able to find relevant videos from a range of sources in their search results."
So YouTube is not limiting search results to videos from these providers, but it is looking to give them priority in searches, which, ideally, will link people to more recognized, endorsed health info, and avoid them slipping down rabbit holes of conspiracy theories and false info that can be damaging for public debate.
Which is the key problem the Biden Administration called out last week, with US President Joe Biden saying that Facebook is 'killing people' by failing to adequately address the distribution of anti-vax content on its platforms. Biden has since walked back his statement, saying instead that Facebook needs to do more to specifically address users who are known sharers of health misinformation, which is based on a recent report which found that 60% of the misinformation surrounding COVID vaccines has come from just a dozen social media accounts.
Given that these accounts are known, Biden says that Facebook could do more to protect people. In response, Facebook has strongly defended its actions in addressing COVID misinformation, and contributing to the broader vaccination push.
Facebook and YouTube have become key distributors of information, with the platforms now among the top news resources for Americans, and likely many other regions of the western world. As such, there's an onus on the platforms to do all they can to combat misinformation, and highlight authoritative resources, as a means to ensure people remain well-informed about the risks, and benefits, of key health pushes.
Both platforms have actually been combating the anti-vax moment for years, but with a significant amount of people still resisting the vaccine push, the risk now is that we won't be able to move beyond the pandemic, as it will continue to live on among the growing, anti-vax cohort.
YouTube says that it's worked with various health groups to establish its new listing of approved sources, while its broader approach on the new listings was recommended by medical experts:
"We applied the principles developed by an expert panel convened by the National Academy of Medicine, a nonprofit, nongovernmental organization that brings together the top experts in health, medicine, and biomedical science to provide unbiased, evidence-based guidance about health and science. The National Academy of Medicine regularly examines complicated questions related to health, medicine, and biomedical science and over the years they have given guidance on everything from countering the opioid epidemic to gene editing."
Some will no doubt claim that this information is biased or motivated by other incentives, but labels aim to provide more endorsement and authority to official, government-approved health info, on a range of fronts.
Hopefully, that will help connect more users with essential info, and quell the rumblings of pseudo-scientific claims.
The new labels and recommendations will appear in the YouTube app from today.