Google is attempting to quickly remove misinformation about the coronavirus (COVID-19) from its search engine and YouTube.
Searches related to the virus trigger an “SOS Alert” and present information from reliable sources such as the World Health Organization and the Center for Disease Control, as reported by Bloomberg. It’s interesting to note that if you simply search “flu season” or “flu,” you will get regular results.
In terms of YouTube, Google is attempting to quickly take down videos that claim to prevent the virus in place of medical treatment. The tech giant has also banned some apps related to the virus from Google Play.
Further, Google is also blocking tens of thousands of ads that are attempting to capitalize off the virus. It is also removing ads from YouTube if they discuss the virus. However, governments and NGOs have been given free ad space on the platform, which is similar to what Facebook is doing.
Although the company is attempting to prevent the spread of misinformation, it says that it isn’t actually altering search results.
“Our systems are designed to automatically detect searches that may be related to topics like health and apply the same treatment of elevating reliable and authoritative sources in the results,” a spokesperson from Google told Bloomberg.
Still, the fact that Google is aggressively intervening in its online services is a shift from its usual model that relies on automation to rank information, which is what it has done since it launched 22 years ago.