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Coronavirus impact | YouTube will remove conspiracy theories that link COVID-19 to 5G technology

In the United Kingdom, these theories have led to people setting cell towers on fire.

April 06, 2020 / 08:33 PM IST

The coronavirus pandemic has seen several scamsters and fearmongers promote the spread of fake news to add to the already ensuing chaos amid this global crisis. The most recent fraudulent theory doing the rounds over social media was a link between coronavirus and 5G technology.

Now, YouTube has committed to reducing the spread of misleading conspiracy theories by reducing the number of videos it recommends to users on its platform that link the ongoing coronavirus pandemic to 5G technology. In the United Kingdom, these theories have led to people damaging cell towers.

The Guardian reported that a spokesperson for the video-sharing platform said, “We have also begun reducing recommendations of borderline content such as conspiracy theories related to 5G and coronavirus, that could misinform users in harmful ways.

Last week, the BBC reported at least seven cell towers had been set ablaze after the false information was spread that linked 5G technology to the coronavirus. According to the report, one of the towers set on fire wasn’t even a 5G tower.

The video streaming platform said it would remove videos that violate its policies. However, it may still allow conspiracy content about 5G that doesn’t mention the coronavirus, but those videos could be removed or suppressed from search results. Several conspiracy theories about 5G aren’t backed by any evidence and only serve to misinform people.

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COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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However, YouTube’s actions could be vital in the prevention of the spread of misinformation. Moreover, at a time when remote connections are more important than ever, it is imperative to deter people from acting irrationally.  We suggest that any news be crosschecked with official sources to stay informed and limit the spread of misinformation.
Carlsen Martin
first published: Apr 6, 2020 08:33 pm

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