More than 1 million videos containing “dangerous” misinformation about COVID-19 have been removed from YouTube since the beginning of the pandemic, the popular video platform said Wednesday.
The statement by the Google-owned company comes as social media platforms are under fire from political leaders for failing to stem the spread of false and harmful misinformation and disinformation about the virus and other topics.
YouTube said in a blog post it relies on "expert consensus from health organizations," including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO), but noted that, in some cases, "misinformation is less clear-cut" as new facts emerge.
"Our policies center on the removal of any videos that can directly lead to egregious real-world harm," chief product officer Neal Mohan wrote.
"Since February of 2020, we've removed over one million videos related to dangerous coronavirus information, like false cures or claims of a hoax," he said.
"In the midst of a global pandemic, everyone should be armed with absolutely the best information available to keep themselves and their families safe."
YouTube said it was working to accelerate the process for removing videos with misinformation while simultaneously delivering those from authoritative sources.
Mohan said the platform currently removes close to 10 million videos per quarter and that the majority of them have been watched less than 10 times.
"Speedy removals will always be important but we know they're not nearly enough ... The most important thing we can do is increase the good and decrease the bad," he said.
"When people now search for news or information, they get results optimized for quality, not for how sensational the content might be."
YouTube also said it removed "thousands" of videos for violating election misinformation policies since the U.S. presidential election in November, with three-fourths removed before hitting 100 views.