YouTube to allow ads on coronavirus videos

YouTube to allow ads on coronavirus videos

YouTube will soon allow advertisements to run on videos that discuss the new coronavirus, reversing its previous policy that banned users from monetizing any coronavirus-related content.

The backtrack comes after swarms of YouTube creators complained about the policy barring ads on videos with anything more than "a passing mention” of the coronavirus, which they said unfairly kept money out of their hands as the disease becomes an increasingly pressing topic of conversation.

YouTube previously banned ads on videos that mentioned coronavirus due to its "sensitive events" policy, which bars monetization on videos about fast-evolving and delicate situations such as natural disasters and shootings.

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But in a blog post on Wednesday, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki said the platform will begin allowing ads on coronavirus-related videos again in order to ensure "news organizations and creators can continue producing quality videos in a sustainable way." 

"It’s becoming clear this issue is now an ongoing and important part of everyday conversation," she wrote.

But the platform is still taking precautions; it will only allow ads on content discussing coronavirus if it is from particular news organizations or if the creators go through YouTube's self-certification program. 

"In the days ahead, we will enable ads for content discussing the coronavirus on a limited number of channels, including creators who accurately self-certify and a range of news partners," Wojcicki wrote. "We’re preparing our policies and enforcement processes to expand monetization to more creators and news organizations in the coming weeks." 

YouTube has been taking steps to surface authoritative information about the coronavirus from public health bodies like the World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It is also offering free ad space to governments and non-profits in regions that have been struck by the disease. 

"There’s a lot of uncertainty right now, and we understand the importance of helping people find authoritative sources of news and information," Wojcicki wrote.

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As the coronavirus spreads in the U.S. and around the world, users have taken to social media to spread conspiracy theories, boost fraudulent "treatments" for the mysterious disease, and make money by drastically raising prices for products like Clorox wipes and face masks.

The platforms, including YouTube's parent company Google, have each instituted new and fast-evolving policies to combat the scourge of misinformation. 

So far, the novel coronavirus has infected more than 1,300 people across the U.S. and more than 100,000 around the world.