Youtube has become both the poison and medication when it comes to disinformation, and now that is causing massive problems to the COVID-19 vaccination drive!
A couple of weeks ago, the popular video-sharing platform announced a brand new ad campaign to tackle issues related to vaccine hesitancy, partly because the company itself is part of the problem!
Youtube lined up a roster of well-known comedians, musicians, content creators, and medical experts such as Anthony Fauci for a new campaign that will fight misinformation about vaccination as close to 25% of the US adult population doesn’t want to get the COVID-19 vaccine.
Dr Garth Graham, Director and Global Head of Healthcare and Public Partnerships at Youtube, in a blog post wrote that hearing inaccurate information can lead to doubt breeding in people’s mind.
However, it turns out Youtube itself is one of the primary sources from where people are consuming content related to vaccine hesitancy.
According to a new report published by Pendulum, researchers found that close to 3,634 videos had been uploaded to Youtube between January 2020 to April 2021, in which individuals discuss vaccine hesitancy and the pandemic. And guess what? These videos, in total, clocked over a whopping 72 million views in total!
Researchers from Pendulum also revealed the top 50-most subscribed Youtube creators who have expressed their unwillingness to get the vaccine needed to safeguard oneself from the deadly COVID-19. The list includes PragerU, One America News Network and QAnon booster.
Note here that although mainstream social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Youtube did put several rules in place to try and deal with COVID-19 related disinformation. They didn’t, however, address the issue of content creators speaking about vaccine hesitancy.
In October 2020, Youtube pledged to take action against misleading COVID-19 vaccine videos. Fast forward to March 2021. It reported that they had deleted close to 30,000 anti-vaxxer videos from their platforms. But it seems like its own creators have slipped past Youtube’s radar.
The researchers at Pendulum also mentioned that a few prominent narratives have repeatedly cropped up across the channels which have been promoting vaccine hesitancy.
Among them, one of the primary claims stated that the vaccine was developed too quickly and approved at even a faster rate than other vaccines. Thus it might not entirely be safe.
Other popular opinions included individuals claiming their immune system was strong enough to deal with the side effects of COVID-19, a generation opposition to vaccines altogether and conspiracy theories about the vaccine changing the human DNA.
Youtube is yet to respond to requests for comments regarding the finding of the study conducted by Pendulum. How will the Google-owned video-sharing platform deal with this tricky situation? Only time will tell. We will keep you updated on all future developments. Until then, stay tuned.