YouTube will begin allowing “a limited number of channels” to run ads on content about the novel coronavirus, CEO Susan Wojcicki says.
In a letter to creators, Wojcicki wrote that YouTube’s “sensitive events” policy, under which it demonetizes content about events like natural disasters, shootings, and pandemics that result in a loss of life, was “designed to apply to short-term events.”
YouTube began considering the COVID-19 outbreak a sensitive event in the middle of February, and subsequently demonetized any video with “more than a passing mention” of the coronavirus. This led to complaints from a number of creators, including Linus Tech Tips (10.3 million subscribers) and Philip DeFranco (6.39 million).
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We hear you. Update to come on this tomorrow – stay tuned.
— Susan Wojcicki (@SusanWojcicki) March 10, 2020
YouTube generally does not make exceptions to its sensitive events policy. However, “It’s becoming clear this issue is now an ongoing and important part of everyday conversation, and we want to make sure news organizations and creators can continue producing quality videos in a sustainable way,” Wojcicki wrote.
Because of this, YouTube will soon allow some news outlets and “creators who accurately self-certify” to monetize content about coronavirus.
The platform is currently working on new policies and enforcement processes it’ll use to monitor monetization of coronavirus content. Wojcicki says expanded monetization will roll out in the coming weeks.
On top of discussing monetization, Wojcicki revealed that YouTube is working to combat misinformation about coronavirus and is increasing livestreaming of public events that people may not want to or be able to attend.
In regards to misinformation, Wojcicki says YouTube has been doing what it commonly does with concerning events: “raising up authoritative sources in search and showing information panels on relevant videos.” It’s also added links to the World Health Organization, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and local organizations to its homepage so users can click through to updates about coronavirus from legitimate sources. Additionally, it’s donating ad inventory to these organizations so they can give useful information directly to viewers.
The platform is also keeping its eye (and thus the attention of its more than 10,000 content moderators) on videos that aim to spread misinformation about coronavirus, particularly those that discourage people from seeing a doctor or claim “harmful substances” might offer them some kind of benefit in fighting the virus, Wojcicki wrote. These videos violate YouTube’s policies and will be removed.
As for livestreaming, YouTube is handling increased demand for online gatherings as schools like Stanford and Ohio University close and conferences like the Electronic Entertainment Expo cancel. Wojcicki said it’s “working to help make those connections possible,” and linked out to an example mass recently livestreamed by the Vatican.
YouTube has added a coronavirus-specific page to its Help Center, and will update said page with any new policy information.