YouTube as a source of information on COVID-19: a pandemic of misinformation?
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  • Published on:
    YouTube as a source on information on COVID-19: a pandemic of misinformation? Response
    • Kirandeep K Sahajpal, Medical Student Manchester Medical School
    • Other Contributors:
      • Ciara A Lindsay, Medical Student
      • Fozia Khan, Medical Student

    Dear Editor,

    After reading the article, we would like to sincerely congratulate the authors Heidi Oi-Yee Li, Adrian Bailey, David Huynh and James Chan on their successful piece titled ‘YouTube as a source of information on COVID-19: a pandemic of misinformation?’ published in the British Medical Journal. This is a very relevant piece of work and we would like to offer some contributions.

    As the Covid-19 pandemic progresses daily, social media platforms such as YouTube, unfortunately can become victims to showcasing anecdotal and premature evidence that can lead to fatal consequences and further spread of the so called ‘infodemic’(1). The article we are responding to worryingly demonstrates the large viewership, 62,042,609, of the non-factual videos on YouTube (2). Despite this representing only a quarter of the videos used in the study this shows these videos are perhaps more popular to watch which risks miseducating a large number of viewers.
    However, it appears that since the publication of this article in March 2020 this issue has come to light and been addressed. YouTube has now updated its policies and created a ‘COVID-19 medical misinformation policy’ (3) . Assumingly, this policy has been created to protect its audiences from misinformation, going against viewing algorithms that would normally display videos higher up on the suggestions based on viewing number levels. The policy enforces that the spread of medical misinformation regarding coron...

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    Conflict of Interest:
    None declared.
  • Published on:
    Institutional misinformation in the time of Covid-19: the case of Italy
    • Pasquale Gallina, Neurosurgeon University of Florence, Italy
    • Other Contributors:
      • Marco Ricci, Doctor of Law

    Li et al.[1] analyzed misinformation about the Covid-19 pandemic generated by social media, as well as that from traditional means of communication.[2] We focus here on a further, more insidious form of misinformation: that generated by institutions, by paradigmatically analyzing the case of Italy.
    It was well known on January 31, 2020 that Covid-19 had the potential to become pandemic and detailed measures for adoption by health authorities to combat the disease had already been indicated.[3] On the same day, the Italian government declared a state of emergency.[4] However, while neglecting scientific data [3] and in contrast to the seriousness of the decision,[4] institutional figures (government officials and health authorities), reassured the population through statements in the media that the situation was under control even when the virus had demonstrated its contagiousness and lethality. For weeks prior to the outbreak in Lombardy, the population was told that COVID-19 was little more than a flu. Authorities reassured the population that the measures being adopted to prevent/limit the epidemic were the most stringent in Europe. On February 26th, with 330 infected individuals and 11 dead, the Italian Prime Minister declared that the number of infections should not cause alarm. In the coming days, citizens became aware of the magnitude of the outbreak and found themselves psychologically/materially unprepared, in a stupor in the face of the collapse of the Lomb...

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    Conflict of Interest:
    None declared.
  • Published on:
    YouTube as a source of information

    This research would be more useful if we were given the raw data containing each misleading publication with precise references to why each misleads. Instead, we obtain a summary of the most inflammatory and outlying presentations, as if those represent the majority. Some of the videos are merely observations by professionals practicing in the field. One of the inflammatory examples about the Italian and Iranian strains stands out. Only last week Governor Cuomo said New York was afflicted by a European strain. Where were the critics calling him out?

    Conflict of Interest:
    None declared.