YouTube has been criticized for continuing to host coronavirus disinformation on its video sharing platform during a global health emergency.
Two US advocacy groups which campaign for online safety undertook an 18-day investigation of the video sharing platform in March — finding what they say were “dozens” of examples of dubious videos, including videos touting bogus vaccines the sellers claimed would protect buyers from COVID-19.
They also found videos advertising medical masks of unknown quality for sale.
There have been concerns about shortages of masks for front-line medical staff, as well as the risk of online scammers hawking a low grade kit that does not offered the claimed protection against the virus.
Google said last month that it would temporarily take down ads for masks from its ad network but sellers looking to exploit the coronavirus crisis appear to be circumventing the ban by using YouTube’s video sharing platform as an alternative digital shop window to lure buyers.
Researchers working for the Digital Citizens Alliance (DCA) and the Coalition for a Safer Web (CSW) initiated conversations with sellers they found touting dodgy coronavirus wares on YouTube — and were offered useless ‘vaccines’ for purchase and hundreds of masks of unknown quality.
“There was ample reason to believe the offers for masks were dubious as well [as the vaccines], as highlighted by interactions with representatives from some of the sellers,” they said.
Their report includes screen grabs of some of the interactions with the sellers. In one a seller tells the