Scientists and doctors around the world fight daily battles to combat misinformation about COVID-19. The problem is so serious that platforms like Facebook and Twitter have implemented policies to curb fake news about the subject. But fact-checking agencies indicate that there are platforms that still fail to address the problem, especially the YouTube it’s the Spotify.
Not that fake news is limited to events related to the pandemic. They also follow political, social and religious motivations, for example. But misinformation about COVID-19 has an obvious aggravating factor: it can make it difficult to fight the disease and, consequently, cause deaths.
Through partnerships with fact-checking agencies and changes in algorithms, Facebook and Twitter try to reduce the reach of fake news on their platforms. These measures are not entirely effective — just to give you an idea, Twitter was recently questioned by the Federal Public Ministry about fake news in Brazil — but they represent some effort.
Checking agencies send letter to YouTube
On YouTube, the situation is more worrying. An open letter signed by more than 80 fact-checking agencies accuses the platform of hosting content from groups spreading COVID-19 misinformation.
Yes, YouTube also has policies to combat fake news, but agencies find them insufficient. Directed to Susan Wojcicki, CEO of the platform, the letter states the following:
Your company’s platform has framed discussions of disinformation as a false dichotomy between deleting or not deleting content. By doing so, YouTube is avoiding the possibility of running what has been proven to work: our experience with fact-checking against academic evidence shows us that bringing up verified information is more effective than deleting content.
Overall, the groups ask YouTube to take four steps:
- Commit to supporting independent research against disinformation campaigns on the platform;
- Make resources available so videos with disinformation can be refuted;
- Adjust the platform algorithm to prevent repeat offenders from having their content promoted;
- Strive to fight fake news in non-English-language videos.
Spotify is also in the crosshairs
Spotify also received an open letter recently, this one signed by a group of around 270 doctors, nurses, scientists and educators. They urge the service to take “responsibility for mitigating the spread of misinformation.”
The letter relates to a podcast published on Spotify on December 31, 2021. In it, Joe Rogan — a podcaster with more than 11 million listeners — interviewed Robert Malone, a scientist who claims to be the creator of mRNA technology (there is no evidence). about it), but is now skeptical about vaccines that use it.
In the episode, Malone made unsubstantiated claims about COVID-19, including that President Joe Biden withheld information that ivermectin is valid in treating the disease (it is not).
An excerpt from the letter reads as follows:
By allowing the spread of false and socially harmful claims, Spotify makes it possible for hosted media to undermine public trust in scientific research and sow doubts about the credibility of data-based advice offered by healthcare professionals.
Rather than the immediate elimination of the episode in question, the letter asks Spotify to establish an official policy against fake news which, as such, holds podcast creators accountable for the content of their episodes.
YouTube did not make it clear whether it will implement the measures requested in the letter, but said it works with international publishers to add bulletin boards to controversial videos and plans to expand that approach.
The service also stated that it already has policies in place to combat fake news about COVID-19. Also according to the platform, the measures adopted made the consumption of content with disinformation be less than 1% of all video views on YouTube.
Spotify did not respond to requests for comment, but The Guardian recalls that, on previous occasions, the platform has removed podcast episodes with false information about COVID-19.
With information: CNET, The Guardian, Mashable.