Popular YouTube videos about COVID-19 serve misleading information

A recent study reveals that a quarter of the most popular YouTube videos about COVID-19 are serving misleading information.

The surge of misleading or fake news on YouTube is not uncommon. In fact, many conspiracy theories have their start on this particular video platform. Now, these misleading facts are tackling one of the most important stories of today: COVID-19.

Fake news

YouTube, and other popular social media platforms, is awash with misleading and fake news about COVID-19. Experts agree that this misleading information can potentially cause harm to unknowing users.

While this misleading information runs rampant on many websites, official government information is widely disregarded. Government and medical institutions regularly produce accurate and reliable information. However, studies suggest that users disregard this information in favor of more dramatic fake news.

Several studies have proven that YouTube provides a reliable platform to disseminate factual and accurate information. However, some malicious and uninformed users also use this same platform to spread misinformation.

This epidemic of misinformation is not only limited to YouTube. Moreover, popular platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit are awash with this kind of tactic to confuse people.

Some of these conspiracy theorists even believe that COVID-19 is a hoax. There are some that claim that the virus spreads through a 5G internet connection.

There are some users that even went as far as storming their hospitals to prove that COVID-19 is a hoax. The most alarming of these fake news is that some users are encouraging others to take unproven COVID-19 treatments. Medical experts are pleading for these users to stop the spread of fake news.

The research

In order to get to the bottom of the problem, a group of researchers picks popular videos about COVID-19. The researchers were able to screen 150 videos.

The study has an alarming result. The study reveals that 19 videos contain non-factual and misleading information. These 19 videos have a combined 62 million views. On the other hand, videos from government and medical institutions only account for 11% of the total views.

The researchers conclude:

“As the current COVID-19 pandemic worsens, public health agencies must better use YouTube to deliver timely and accurate information and to minimize the spread of misinformation.”

While these are testing times, YouTube claims that it is working to curb the spread of misinformation on its platform. Additionally, the company is also working with various government institutions to properly disseminate factual information to users.

Image courtesy of PixieMe/Shutterstock

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