Coronavirus (1071) Youtube as an Information Source During the COVID-19 Pandemic

15 November, 2020

Two billion people view YouTube each year and this leading video channel contributes to dangerous misinformation. This paper relates to Turkish content. It would be interesting to hear about similar studies worldwide. The authors call for official health authorities and international institutions to be more visible on YouTube. I agree - the 'infodemic' should be seen not as a surplus of 'good' and 'bad' information, but as a problem of 'bad' information obscuring the 'good', and little help for people to tell the difference.

CITATION: Youtube as an Information Source During the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Pandemic: Evaluation of the Turkish and English Content

Cureus. 2020 Oct; 12(10): e10795.

Ömer Ataç et al.


Introduction: YouTube is an important online source of information and has two billion users globally. Its viewing numbers tend to increase exponentially in extraordinary global situations. Our aim in this study was to review and evaluate the contents of the most frequently viewed YouTube videos during the Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

Methods: In this qualitative study, contents of the most frequently viewed Turkish and English YouTube videos regarding the COVID-19 pandemic were examined and scored with modified DISCERN, medical information and content index (MICI), and video power index (VPI) during April 2020.

Results: The mean DISCERN score of Turkish videos was similar to that of English videos (2.55±1.40 and 2.43±1.25, respectively). The total MICI score tended to be higher in Turkish videos. News channels released 86.9% of all 168 videos and 65.2% of all 23 misleading videos. When the descriptive characteristics of videos were compared in terms of their content category, average view counts, view ratios, and VPIs of misleading videos were higher than those of the useful videos. Only, the likes ratio of useful videos was higher than that of the misleading videos.

Conclusions: Since there is no peer-review system on YouTube, people can almost release every type of video. It is very important for the content of videos that are released through news channels to be accurate because the important messages can be spread among people in society through them. In our study, especially some Turkish videos included many different rumors and faulty statements. During the extraordinary situations such as the pandemic, the videos of official health authorities and international institutions should be more visible on YouTube.


Best wishes, Neil

Coordinator, WHO-HIFA Collaboration: HIFA project on COVID-19

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HIFA profile: Neil Pakenham-Walsh is coordinator of the HIFA global health campaign (Healthcare Information For All - ), a global community with more than 20,000 members in 180 countries, interacting on six global forums in four languages in collaboration with WHO. Twitter: @hifa_org FB: