Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, misinformation has permeated social media, and platforms like Facebook have taken steps to try to reduce the number of misleading posts available to consumers on the internet.
Now, experts have found that similar misinformation is littering Youtube. A new study found that 25 percent of all coronavirus-related, English-speaking Youtube videos include inaccurate information.
“This is particularly alarming, when considering the immense viewership of these videos,” the researchers explained. “Evidently, while the power of social media lies in the sheer volume and diversity of information being generated and spread, it has significant potential for harm.”
Setting the record straight
The researchers analyzed videos on Youtube that discussed the coronavirus and searched specifically for the ones that were the most widely viewed through the end of March. After focusing solely on English-speaking videos, the researchers had nearly 70 videos to evaluate.
The researchers used various scales and ranking systems to determine the accuracy of the videos. They looked at what topics the videos covered, including COVID-19 prevention tips and treatment options.
The study revealed that nearly 30 percent of the videos analyzed contained misinformation. Entertainment news outlets were the biggest culprits of creating videos like this, as this was the source for over 30 percent of these videos. In total, the videos with misleading information made up nearly 25 percent of all coronavirus-related video streams, and they collectively gained over 62 million views.
While the majority of the videos -- over 72 percent -- contained strictly factual information, it’s still important that consumers are getting their news from credible, reliable sources. It’s also crucial that consumers are aware of this misinformation and look to network news outlets or medical professionals when seeking new information.
“The education and engagement of the public is paramount in the management of this pandemic by ensuring public understanding of, and therefore adherence with, public health measures,” the researchers wrote. “Youtube is a powerful, untapped educational tool that should be better mobilised by health professionals.”