YouTube says it's removed 1 million videos for COVID-19 misinformation

But the 1 million coronavirus-related takedowns since the start of the pandemic are difficult to put in context, because of YouTube's gigantic scale.

Joan E. Solsman Former Senior Reporter
Joan E. Solsman was CNET's senior media reporter, covering the intersection of entertainment and technology. She's reported from locations spanning from Disneyland to Serbian refugee camps, and she previously wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. She bikes to get almost everywhere and has been doored only once.
Expertise Streaming video, film, television and music; virtual, augmented and mixed reality; deep fakes and synthetic media; content moderation and misinformation online Credentials
  • Three Folio Eddie award wins: 2018 science & technology writing (Cartoon bunnies are hacking your brain), 2021 analysis (Deepfakes' election threat isn't what you'd think) and 2022 culture article (Apple's CODA Takes You Into an Inner World of Sign)
Joan E. Solsman
2 min read

YouTube has more than 2 billion monthly visitors. 

Angela Lang/CNET

YouTube has since February 2020 removed more than 1 million videos related to "dangerous" coronavirus information, such as false cures or claims of a hoax, Chief Product Officer Neal Mohan said in a blog post Wednesday. 

Putting the number in context is difficult because of the gargantuan scale of Google's service, the internet's biggest source of video, with more than 2 billion monthly users

It appears to double the total tally of videos removed since the beginning of the pandemic; in January, YouTube said it had removed more than 500,000 videos for COVID-19 misinformation. But YouTube doesn't disclose how many videos are uploaded to its massive library, and it hasn't yet updated its total video-removal stats covering the last five months, obscuring the picture of how coronavirus-related removals stack up to other kinds. 

YouTube generally removes nearly 10 million total videos each quarter, Mohan said in his post. 

YouTube, like FacebookTwitterReddit and many other internet companies that give users a platform to post their own content, has grappled with how to balance freedom of expression with effective policing of the worst material posted on its site. Over the years, YouTube has grappled with different kinds of misinformationconspiracy theoriesdiscriminationhate and harassmentchild abuse and exploitation and videos of mass murder, all at an unprecedented global scale. Critics of YouTube argue that the company's content moderation efforts still fall short too often. 

Mohan's post aimed to put COVID-related video removals into the context of YouTube's overall content moderation efforts. He called video takedowns a "blunt instrument" that's difficult to apply when "one person's misinfo is often another person's deeply held belief."

Watch this: Facebook, Twitter and Google face Congress over free speech