YouTube expands fact-check panels to US amid widespread coronavirus misinformation

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Amid the onslaught of coronavirus misinformation, YouTube announced on Tuesday an expansion of its fact-check panels to the United States.

The video-sharing platform owned by Google launched the service last year in Brazil and India. It provides verified, third-party fact-checked information panels and articles regarding pertinent topics.

The fact checks only show up when people search for specific claims. For example, a query such as "Does ibuprofen treat COVID-19?" would turn up a fact check, but something general about the drug itself probably would not.

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YouTube rolled out its fact check panels to the United States.

YouTube rolled out its fact check panels to the United States. (Getty Images)

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The tech giant's fact-check information panel relies on a network of third-party publishers and uses the ClaimReview tagging system, according to a company blog post.

Any American publisher can participate as long as they follow the ClaimReview standards and are either a verified signatory of the International Fact-Checking Network’s (IFCN) Code of Principles or are an authoritative publisher.

Some participating publishers include The Dispatch, FactCheck.org, PolitiFact and The Washington Post Fact Checker. YouTube plans to roll out the fact-check feature to other countries in the future.

False information is spreading almost as fast as the virus itself. An organization known as NewsGuard, which YouTube is not affiliated with, put together a list of the top coronavirus myths. It also uncovered at least 194 websites promoting COVID-19 misinformation worldwide.

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"We are committed to our responsibility to protect the YouTube community, and expanding our fact check information panels is one of the many steps we are taking to raise up authoritative sources, provide relevant and authoritative context to our users, and continue to reduce the spread of harmful misinformation on YouTube," the company said in a blog post.

In addition to this rollout, YouTube will provide $1 million through the Google News Initiative to the IFCN to bolster fact-checking and verification efforts across the world.

As America battles to contain the pandemic, some First Amendment advocates have warned that attempts by social media giants such as YouTube to combat coronavirus misinformation could limit free speech. In one instance, YouTube was accused of censorship over the removal of a highly-circulated video that features Dr. Daniel Erickson of Bakersfield, Calif. In the video, which YouTube said violated its guidelines, Erickson alleged that doctors were encouraged to link deaths to COVID-19 to amplify concerns about the pandemic.

Fox News' Brian Flood and Yael Halon contributed to this article.