YouTube’s coronavirus rule changes have created a double standard on the site with independent creators getting suppressed for mentioning the virus and mainstream media outlets being elevated and promoted when covering the same topic.
While many users of the platform observe this double standard and know that it exists, YouTube executives don’t often come out and admit to it directly and instead frame coronavirus policy changes as a way to keep users safe from “misinformation” or “harmful information.”
But now, in a rare direct acknowledgment of this, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki has actually admitted “unsubstantiated medical information” about the coronavirus is judged by a different set of rules than other health information that YouTube deems to be unsubstantiated.
Wojcicki made the comments during an interview with YouTuber Hank Green when he pointed out that homeopathy, for example, has been around on YouTube for a long time and asked where does YouTube draw the line.
The YouTube CEO responded by acknowledging that there’s a double standard in play and that there’s a “stricter line” for coronavirus content than general health content:
“We did treat COVID-19, because it was a pandemic, we took it much more seriously in the sense that we said right away, anything that was medically unsubstantiated or any kind of miracle cures would be a violation of our policy. So we did that early on and you’re right, that’s a stricter line than we have generally for health.”
Wojcicki’s admission follows the platform making numerous rule changes that limit what independent creators are allowed to say about the coronavirus.
Last month, Wojcicki said anything that goes against the World Health Organization (WHO) is a violation of YouTube’s policies and YouTube’s Chief Product Officer Neal Mohan said videos that “might” encourage people to ignore stay at home advice are banned.
Wojcicki also recently thanked House Intelligence Chair Adam Schiff after he urged YouTube to warn users who interact with coronavirus misinformation and told him “we’re working every day to protect people from misinformation.”