YouTube backtracks on COVID-19 monetisation ban placed on creators

YouTube is allowing the monetisation of content related to COVID-19 after it was previously banned. The coronavirus outbreak had fallen under the monetisation ban concerning "sensitive events", and YouTube's guidelines cited that a sensitive event is usually "an unforeseen event in which there has been a loss of life".

While the coronavirus situation is considered a sensitive event, YouTube's sensitive events policy was designed to apply to short-term events of significant magnitude, such as a natural disaster. Due to the ongoing nature of COVID-19, YouTube will begin enabling ads for content discussing the coronavirus on a limited number of channels.

This includes creators who accurately self-certify and a range of news partners, with more channels to follow. YouTube Certified is a series of courses designed to help eligible creators and partners use advanced YouTube systems and tools. The courses will focus on concepts such as rights management and advanced analytics.

"We’re preparing our policies and enforcement processes to expand monetisation to more creators and news organisations in the coming weeks," YouTube said. CEO Susan Wojcicki said the company's policies are designed to support creators' work on the platform, to protect users, and to offer advertisers about where their ads run.

"We know many of you have had questions about our sensitive events policy, which currently does not allow monetisation if a video includes more than a passing mention of the coronavirus," she said. As it is becoming clear that the coronavirus issue is now an ongoing and important part of everyday conversation, Wojcicki said the company wants to ensure news organisations and creators can continue producing quality videos in a sustainable way.

That said, Wojcicki stressed that from the beginning of the outbreak, YouTube has worked to prevent misinformation associated with the spread of the virus. It is also raising up authoritative sources in search and recommendations and showing information panels on relevant videos. Rolled out in February this year, the information panels are visible on the YouTube homepage, in Search for queries related to coronavirus, as well as on the watch page for videos related to coronavirus.

"YouTube will continue to quickly remove videos that violate our policieswhen they are flagged, including those that discourage people from seeking medical treatment or claim harmful substances have health benefits. Finding trustworthy content is especially critical as news is breaking, and we’ll continue to make sure YouTube delivers accurate information for our users," she added. YouTube also donated ad inventory to governments and NGOs in impacted regions to use for education and information.

Separately, YouTube's parent company, Google, is also putting in place measures to tackle fake news. Earlier this year, it rolled out an SOS Alert in partnership with WHO to make resources about the coronavirus easily accessible. When consumers search for related information on Google, they will find the alert at the top of results page with direct access to safety tips, information, resources, and Twitter updates from WHO.

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