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YouTube expands fact-check feature to US video searches during COVID-19 pandemic

The information panels, launched in Brazil and India last year, will highlight third-party, fact-checked articles above search results for topics such as "covid and ibuprofen" or false claims like "COVID-19 is a bio-weapon," as well as specific searches such as "did a tornado hit Los Angeles."

April 29, 2020 / 07:35 AM IST

YouTube, the video service of Alphabet Inc's Google, said on Tuesday it would start showing text and links from third-party fact-checkers to U.S. viewers, part of efforts to curb misinformation on the site during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The information panels, launched in Brazil and India last year, will highlight third-party, fact-checked articles above search results for topics such as "covid and ibuprofen" or false claims like "COVID-19 is a bio-weapon," as well as specific searches such as "did a tornado hit Los Angeles."

Social media sites including Facebook Inc and Twitter Inc are under pressure to combat misinformation relating to the pandemic caused by the new coronavirus, from false cures to conspiracy theories.

YouTube said in a blog post that more than a dozen U.S. publishers are participating in its fact-checking network, including FactCheck.org, PolitiFact and The Washington Post Fact Checker. The company said it could not share a full list of fact-checking partners.

In 2018, YouTube started using information panels that surfaced links to sources such as Encyclopedia Britannica and Wikipedia for topics considered prone to misinformation, such as "flat earth" theories. But it said in Tuesday's blog post that the panels would now help address misinformation in a fast-moving news cycle.

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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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The site has also recently started linking to the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or local health authorities for videos and searches related to COVID-19.

YouTube did not specify in the blog post how many search terms would prompt the fact-check boxes. It said it would "take some time for our systems to fully ramp up" as it rolls out the fact-checking feature.

The feature will only appear on searches, though the company has previously said that its recommendation feature, which encourages people to watch videos similar to those that they have spent significant time viewing in the past, drives the majority of overall "watch time."

In January, YouTube said that it had started reducing recommendations of borderline content or videos that could misinform users in harmful ways, such as "videos promoting a phony miracle cure for a serious illness."

Major social media companies, which have emptied their offices during the pandemic, have warned that their content moderation could be affected by relying on more automated software. In March, Google said this could cause a jump in videos being erroneously removed for policy violations.
Reuters
first published: Apr 29, 2020 07:25 am

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