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Google Announces Search Features to Help Curb Misinformation Around COVID-19 Vaccine

Google COVID-19 vaccine measures. (Image Credit: Google)

Google COVID-19 vaccine measures. (Image Credit: Google)

While announcing the new features, Google also laid out its efforts that have helped curb COVID-19 misinformation on Google as well as its video streaming platform YouTube.

Just like it did with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (coronavirus), Google is making the information around the COVID-19 vaccine more accessible. The Mountain View, California-based giant announced that it is introducing a new search feature that will show a list of authorised vaccines in users' locations. Further, Google will show information panels about each individual vaccine. The feature is being launched in the UK first, since the country gave emergency authorisation to the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

Google says that it will roll out this feature to other countries as their local health authorities authorise vaccines. The COVID-19 vaccine information will appear at the top of Google searches for COVID-19 vaccine and will present the information in a box above the search results, linking to the health authority or regulatory body (eg WHO) as the source. The panel will have two tabs - one will give the overview of the vaccine, while the other will organise news related to the vaccine under a separate section. This comes as Google's effort to address misinformation and hesitance around the COVID-19 vaccine around the world.

While announcing the new features that address the issue of misinformation on COVID-19 vaccine, Google also said that its COVID-19 information panels on YouTube have been view over 400 billion times. YouTube in April, had banned 'medically unsubstantiated' content after it put a hold on content around the 'COVID-19 being a product of 5G' conspiracy theory. However, the video streaming giant allowed several videos that made false claims about vaccines potentially killing their recipients, or causing infertility or implant microchips to stay on as such videos were not officially covered by YouTube's policies until October. Even after October, YouTube has been reported to let many anti-vaccine videos stay on.

Google, in its blog post, said that it has removed more than 700,000 videos related to dangerous or misleading COVID-19 information. The company also noted that it is now helping YouTube creators by connecting them with health experts to make engaging and accurate content. The company has also donated $250 million (roughly Rs 1,840 crores) in Ad Grants to help over 100 government agencies run PSAs about COVID-19 on YouTube.