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How has YouTube responded to the global COVID-19 crisis?

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, YouTube has remained committed to helping people access authoritative health and news information on our platform. We've approached COVID-19 by building on the policies, resources and products that we've invested in over the past few years to live up to our responsibility. We've also launched initiatives across the globe to help users continue to learn and stay connected as we adapt to a changing world.

Responding to COVID-19

How is YouTube connecting users with authoritative content while limiting misinformation?

Over the past few years, we've accelerated our efforts to protect the YouTube community from harmful content. This is also how we are approaching COVID-19-related content on YouTube. We raise authoritative voices, remove misinformation and reduce the spread of borderline content so that our community can connect with timely and helpful information at this critical time.

Raising authoritative voices

We display information panels linking to global and locally relevant health officials on our homepage and in panels that appear on videos and searches about COVID-19. Collectively, these panels have served over 400 billion impressions.

The COVID-19 pandemic not only affects physical health – it can also affect mental health. To help people access authoritative information more easily, in some countries and regions we've introduced depression and anxiety health information panels and self-assessments in YouTube Search. We are working on making these panels available in more countries and regions.

As a continuation of our efforts to combat COVID-19-related misinformation, we've updated our COVID-19 information panels to include links to COVID-19 vaccine info. The updated panels may show in search results and on watch pages related to COVID-19 or COVID-19 vaccines. The updated panels are intended to help users find third-party authoritative COVID-19 vaccine info and are not a judgement on the accuracy of any video.

We've also donated ad inventory to governments and NGOs to help give their public health messages about COVID-19 more visibility on YouTube.

We help users stay up to date with the latest information by pointing them to trusted sources. During the first few months of COVID-19, YouTube had launched a news shelf for COVID-19 that displayed timely videos from authoritative news and health sources on the home page.

Removing misinformation

As the COVID-19 situation has evolved, we've partnered closely with global and local health authorities to ensure that our policy definition and enforcement is effective in removing content where there's a serious risk of egregious harm. Our policies prohibit, for example, content that denies the existence of the coronavirus or encourages the use of home remedies in place of medical treatment. We also prohibit content that explicitly disputes the efficacy of global or local health authority advice regarding social distancing that may lead people to act against that guidance.

In October 2020, we expanded our COVID-19 medical misinformation policy to remove content about vaccines that contradicts consensus from health authorities, such as the US Centers for Disease Control or the World Health Organization.

Reducing the spread of borderline content

Content that comes close to — but doesn’t quite cross the line of — violating our Community Guidelines is a fraction of 1% of what’s watched on YouTube in the U.S. In 2019, we began reducing recommendations of borderline content or videos that could misinform users in harmful ways. This work has been foundational in ensuring that we limit the spread of COVID-19-related borderline content on our site.

How has YouTube helped people adapt to a changing world?

In a short time, COVID-19 has changed how people live their lives. From parents, to teachers, to remote workers, we're creating resources to help users adapt to extraordinary circumstances as they practise social distancing.

Remote learning

As schools closed their buildings and families found themselves at home, we launched Learn@Home and enhanced the YouTube Learning Hub to help parents and guardians complement family learning with supplemental learning content and activities. From Khan Academy to Edelvives to Kok Bisa?, these resources spotlight content across maths, science, history and arts from popular learning channels. Content on the site is now available in English, Italian, French, Korean, Spanish, German and Japanese.

Staying connected at home

We’ve found ways to help our users to stay active, inspired and entertained while following public health guidance. In March 2020, we launched the #WithMe initiative that encouraged users to follow social distancing guidance. The initiative ran over the course of March - April 2020, and was live in 63 markets and collaborated with over 700 creators.

Since the start of the world's isolation, people have turned to YouTube to connect over live streams. To support this, we created and shared a Live Stream Playbook and Digital Events Playbook with partners globally to enable more creators and organisations to maintain a connection virtually as we practise social distancing.

How is YouTube supporting and inspiring relief and recovery?

As governments and the scientific community work rapidly to manage and mitigate the impact of the outbreak, YouTube is contributing resources and relief to help enable leaders of the science and medical community to protect people and get society back up and running.

We are promoting and supporting fundraising efforts led by YouTube creators and artists to help support various causes related to the COVID-19 crisis by committing grant funds globally and providing broader access to YouTube features such as our fundraiser tag and donate button.