When someone searches YouTube for a health-related term like “COVID-19,” the majority of the results will now prominently showcase videos from government agencies and healthcare organizations that the site considers to be trustworthy sources of information.
According to rules created by a team of experts, the World Health Organization, the Mayo Clinic, and the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia are among the channels the platform has designated “reliable” providers of health information.
The new technique, according to YouTube, is the first stage of a wider campaign.
According to Garth Graham, director and global head of health care and public health at Google and YouTube and an associate professor at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine, the goal is to provide people with a go-to source of reliable answers to health questions in the same way they use the site to “learn how to fix my fridge.”
Many experts on disinformation and public health praise the effort, but some are concerned that the new improvements do not adequately address the complexity of health behavior and the contentious nature of medical knowledge.
The new regulation, for example, has no impact on the platform’s ranking algorithm, which has gained a reputation as a source of medical misinformation despite earlier efforts to rein in conspiracy theories on the site.
Before YouTube took it down, it helped propagate the misconception that hydroxychloroquine is an effective COVID-19 treatment and aired the dubious documentary Plandemic, which claimed the pandemic was staged, that vaccines don’t work, and that masks “activate” the coronavirus.
Instead, movies from reputable sources are displayed in a different section from the regular search results chosen by the ranking system.
According to Joan Donovan, research director of Harvard University’s Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics, and Public Policy, the adjustments also fail to address YouTube’s position in the multiplatform disinformation ecosystem.
Many users, for example, find out-of-date content on YouTube through links or videos shared in Facebook groups or on Twitter.
According to a corporate representative, YouTube has banned anything that contradicts COVID-19 information from the WHO or local health authorities since May 2020, and it has removed over one million videos for violating its policy on COVID-19 medical misinformation.
The new improvements emphasize credible sources rather than eradicating disinformation.
They are based on recommendations made by a panel of six experts in a peer-reviewed discussion paper issued by the National Academy of Medicine last month. The project was funded with $100,000 from YouTube.
The authors discovered that “credibility” for a source of health information is based on three fundamental factors.
First and foremost, the source should provide information based on the most up-to-date scientific findings.
Second, it should work to improve objectivity by reducing conflicts of interest and bias. Finally, to maintain transparency and accountability, the source must reveal its limitations and faults.
These data are being used by YouTube to select trustworthy government and healthcare institutions.
Videos from reputable sources appear in a unique section dubbed the “health content shelf” by Google, which displays at or near the top of search results for a few hundred health-related inquiries.
(Because the platform is testing this functionality, the special area will only be visible for a few users at a time.) The videos on these channels are also labeled with messages that explain why the source is trustworthy.
In practice, this means that government-owned channels, accredited educational and medical institutions, and academic and medical periodicals are all fighting for fresh digital real estate on the world’s second-busiest website.
These adjustments represent a “significant shift in how the corporation sees itself,” according to Donovan.
They claim that YouTube aspires to be “an important source of knowledge” rather than the digital equivalent of “a record store’s free trash.”
However, other experts are concerned that recognizing and boosting healthcare institutions and government authorities would not have the desired impact of encouraging consumers to access more accurate data.
Corey Basch, a public health researcher at William Paterson University, says, “I’m just not sure that people are tuning in to YouTube to see more experts or people who have been considered to be reputable or authoritative.”
Her research on YouTube and TikTok shows that videos produced by official organizations are seen considerably less frequently than content created by producers who have won the confidence of the platform’s community.
According to her, the move does little to address “not unwarranted” suspicion in many of the organizations that have benefited from the change. Basch believes that the issues go much deeper than a lack of information.
“Sometimes we overlook the fact that human emotion and behavior are typically influenced by social and emotional variables rather than cognitive factors,” she says.
Graham admits that “people trust sources for diverse reasons,” and that information that does not come from a “culturally relevant” source is unlikely to influence behavior.
He says YouTube has plans to engage with independent creators that provide compelling and trustworthy medical material, but he won’t go into specifics.
Sven Bernecker is a philosopher at the University of California, Irvine, who studies fake news and the acceptance and application of medical information.
According to him, the discussion paper’s recommendations, which favor well-known sources, are likely to reinforce current power and influence structures in the medical system.
He further claims that the paper’s focus on scientific consensus hides disagreements regarding what conclusions should be derived from research and clinical experience.
Bernecker explains that the report’s recommendations fit into the popular narrative that science is a method for objectively determining a single fact.
Even a member of the group that drafted the recommendations claims that scientific consensus knowledge does not always imply objective truth.
Wen-Ying is a member of the panel. The authors “struggled” with the concept of consensus among medical experts, according to Sylvia Chou, a program director at the National Cancer Institute, especially knowing that powerful institutions have historically excluded certain marginalized groups and ideas from participating in these discussions.
One of the reasons they concluded that credibility should be judged holistically rather than quantitatively is because of this.
Chou says that a formal numerical barrier can’t be implemented because it’s “unfeasible.”
Each of the three principles outlined in the discussion paper is complemented with a set of qualities provided by the authors to aid in source evaluation.
“Synthesizes knowledge from various sources, rather than a single source,” for example, is one of the eight criteria it lists for the “science-based” philosophy.
It’s unclear whether YouTube used a rigid numerical criterion to decide which groups were considered reputable.
A corporate spokeswoman told Scientific American that the process started with compiling names of groups utilizing the discussion paper’s principles.
“We’re starting with organizations that already have established screening systems in places, such as health care organizations, educational institutions, public health departments, and government agencies,” the spokeswoman explained.
Before validating its picks with the American Public Health Association, the corporation looked to see whether institutions had YouTube accounts.
Chou, who has a degree in public health, says, “This entire universe of health misinformation has been distressing to see.” “Many of our beliefs about communication and human behavior are being called into question. There’s still a lot of research to be done.”
the author is : Grant Currin, a freelance journalist based in Brooklyn, N.Y., writes about research news and educational media. He publishes the newsletter How Do Ideas Spread?
Read Also: https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/2474026?hl=en&co=GENIE.Platform%3DAndroid