Just four days after YouTube announced that it would combat COVID-19-related misinformation on its platform, the company has launched another feature to amplify its efforts: a coronavirus news shelf. The new homepage will display news videos from verified media sources on the subject, and it goes live for both desktop and mobile users.
On Twitter, YouTube stated, "We want everyone to have access to authoritative content during this trying time, so we’re launching a COVID-19 news shelf on our homepage in 16 countries. We’ll expand to more countries, as well."
It's the least YouTube can do — If you go to YouTube on your desktop, you'll now notice a COVID-19 news shelf on the homepage. It comes with the option to expand the shelf and look up other videos on the subject (every video displayed here comes from a YouTube-verified source at the moment). If you don't want to see the bar, you can cross it out by clicking "Not Interested" at the top right side above the shelf.
This is how it looks on mobile.
COVID-19 exposes tech's vulnerabilities — The coronavirus has poked major holes in the tech industry. In multiple, infuriating, and growing examples, it has shown that — in spite of its grand claims to be the solution to all of mankind's problems — the world of tech has yet to enact an effective strategy against basic problems like misinformation and false claims on COVID-19.
Facebook is struggling with it. Twitter has been lukewarm and abysmally generic on the topic. Instagram seems shaky. YouTube has turned to machine learning to moderate content as its human moderators are self-isolating. This means its automated process will be more likely to spot, strike, and remove content — without the judgment of human nuance and discernibility. It's highly possible people's videos will be incorrectly struck, affecting their ability to reach more audiences and generate income off their videos.
Still, YouTube sounds open to collaborating with others to increase its COVID-19 efforts. On March 16, the company announced, "We're helping millions of people stay connected while also jointly combating fraud and misinformation about the virus, elevating authoritative content on our platform, and sharing critical updates in coordination with government health care agencies around the world." Will this news shelf fix all unsound claims on YouTube about the dangerous virus? No. Not even remotely. But it is a small step in the right — and desperately needed — direction.