YouTube and Google Play Store Go After Content Mentioning Coronavirus

Mar 5, 2020
Google Play Store
Representational Image Only

YouTube is reportedly demonetizing videos mentioning the coronavirus, while Google Play Store for Android has altogether disabled search results for the same. This has left many content creators, app developers and legitimate information providers in a bind.

With regards to YouTube, the platform flags videos talking about possibly disturbing subjects such as armed conflicts, beheadings, mass shootings and more. It has added the novel coronavirus to its list of sensitive topics, admits Tom Leung, product officer at YouTube.

Google Play Store Coronavirus Apps
Image credit: 9to5Google on YouTube

Jon Prosser of Front Page Tech noted that YouTube even demonetized one of the channel’s videos where the creators displayed the name of the virus in the clip instead of actually mentioning it aloud. As The Verge points out, premium tier or white-listed channels do not face the same issue.

That’s because these bigger YouTube channels run their own ads by third-party providers. It’s the smaller players relying on Google AdSense who suffer the brunt of this policy which is set in place to protect advertisers above content creators.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EOLfj6JigKw&feature=emb_logo

On one hand, it makes sense for Google to filter sensitive topics since many shady companies and individuals regularly harness the power of mass panic to target potential victims over the Internet. But this could inadvertently prevent people from receiving critical information too.

Android users who have been searching Play Store for apps to stay updated on COVID-19 may have recently noticed that their query yielded no results. This was apparently an attempt by Google to stop the spread of misinformation about the virus and also thwart app developers from gaming SEO for the hot topic.

Also see: Google Cancels Biggest Annual Event Due to Coronavirus

9to5Google says that the Apps section in Play Store now features a list of curated applications to help users stay up to date about this public health crisis. The results differ based on region. For one, there’s no ‘Coronavirus: Stay informed’ card visible in the online app store for searchers from India.