Fact checkers fault Youtube for allowing coronavirus misinformation spread

A group of 85 fact checking organizations wrote an open letter to Youtube to Wednesday faulting the video platform for spreading disinformation and misinformation globally.

“As an international network of fact-checking organizations, we monitor how lies spread online — and everyday, we see that YouTube is one of the major conduits of online disinformation and misinformation worldwide,” the letter addressed to Youtube CEO Susan Wojciki reads. 

The organizations, including the Philippines’ Rappler, Univision and The Washington Post Fact-checker, call Youtube’s efforts to moderate content “insufficient.”


Specifically, they argue, the platform has allowed dangerous misinformation about COVID-19 to circulate easily.

And they say the problem is especially pronounced for content in languages other than English.

“In the last year we have seen conspiracy groups thriving and collaborating across borders, including an international movement that started in Germany, jumped to Spain and spread through Latin America, all on YouTube,” the letter reads. “Meanwhile, millions of other users were watching videos in Greek and Arabic that encouraged them to boycott vaccinations or treat their COVID-19 infections with bogus cures.” 

A spokesperson for Youtube told The Hill that the platform has “invested heavily in policies and products in all countries we operate to connect people to authoritative content, reduce the spread of borderline misinformation, and remove violative videos.”

Fact checking is “one piece of a much larger puzzle” to reign in misinformation, they added.

Youtube revealed last fall that it had removed over 1 million videos containing coronavirus misinformation such as false cures or hoax claims since the onset of the pandemic.


The platform has a policy specifically covering COVID-19 misinformation that includes a strike system that can lead to account suspension or deletion. 

The fact checking organizations argue that policy has not been implemented effectively and must be improved.

Youtube should commit to “meaningful transparency” about all kinds of disinformation, provide context and debunk false claims, and take stronger action against repeat offenders and expand non-English detection.

“We are ready and able to help YouTube,” the groups wrote. “We wish to meet with you to discuss these matters and find ways forward on a collaboration and look forward to your response to this offer.”