UKRAINE – 2020/09/23: A YouTube logo is displayed on a smartphone in this photo illustration. … [+] (Photo illustration by Igor Golovniov / SOPA Images / LightRocket via Getty Images)

SOPA Images / LightRocket via Getty Images

A recent analysis of YouTube comments on certain coronavirus-related news shows the extent to which the “fake news” issue can hamper important health discussions. The study looked at three videos from major news organizations about the potential of the coronavirus to spread through aerosols and found that 64.2% of the main topics covered in the comments mentioned “fake news”.

Youtube comment analysis coronavirus

Consumer intelligence company Basil Labs analyzed over 3,500 YouTube comments on news videos … [+] related to airborne coronavirus transmission. They found that the conversation about “false news” ran deep among commentators.

Basil Labs

Basil Labs, a consumer intelligence company that uses AI to analyze virtual communities, analyzed approximately 3,500 YouTube video comments from Bloomberg, CBS, and Yahoo! Financial videos. Each message shows how the virus can spread in the air at a distance of more than two meters under certain conditions, e.g. B. in a small and poorly ventilated room, or contains statements from a medical professional or CDC representative.

This has been the longest year of our lives, but COVID-19 is still a new disease. Researchers are learning more about it every day, and we expect them to alert news organizations to share this information with the public as soon as they come across it. It’s not particularly surprising to understand that experts believe coronaviruses are spread both in the air and on surfaces. However, people’s distrust of the media could have serious consequences – namely, ignoring the new knowledge because it is “false news”.

As of March 2018, 52% of Americans believed that online news websites regularly report fake news, and another 34% believe they occasionally report fake news. We can only assume that the number has increased due to misinformation about coronavirus and President Trump’s ongoing campaign against the media.

“A breakdown of topics in the comment section of the Bloomberg video shows an overwhelming focus on the media and ‘false news’, followed by ‘Trump’ and ‘Democrats’. In many other countries, the legitimacy of the increasing research in support of COVID-19 aerosol transmission is not itself questioned, although the resulting guidelines may be discussed, ”said Theo Goetemann, founder of Basil Labs.

Under the Bloomberg video, titled “Can Shutting Down Stop the Spread of COVID-19?”, Comments on fake news took the form of the media in general hating – as one YouTube commenter wrote, “I wish Bloomberg QuickTake and that The rest of the mainstream media would shut up. “- or think aggressively about the lies and scams related to coronavirus information, a la:” Media next week: When you think of the virus, it spreads within a 20-foot radius around you “or” You would like to, that you shut up and not talk about the choice, and how they will lie and cheat your way through them. Don’t fall for it. “

Many of the comments not only called the Democrats as a source of great fear, but also found a way to talk about the protests against the Black Lives Matter. For example, on the same Bloomberg video, one commenter wrote, “Thank you for admitting that these angry mobs who spit, spit and scream in masses need to stop. That’s the best we’ll get from the media anyway. “Another wrote,” Tell that to the tearful liberals, they yell at people all the time. “

Screenshot of some comments under a Bloomberg video on coronavirus and airborne transmission.

Screenshot of some comments under a Bloomberg video on coronavirus and in the air … [+] Transmission.

Rebecca Bellan

“While these comments are far from being a representative sample of the nation, it is worrying to see that 81% of those who produced the vaccine did not trust it, and even more worrying that only 6% of those people had questions about its overall effectiveness – 67% focused on the lies from the media and the CDC. “

It’s important to reiterate that YouTube commenters don’t necessarily reflect the entire population, but they are certainly a very noisy segment of the population. According to a study of media engagement by the University of Texas at Austin, Americans who leave news comments are more likely to be males, lower levels of education, and income than those who only read news comments. These demographics tend to match the demographics of Trump supporters, and this becomes clear in the comments.

“Similarly, the overwhelming mentions of Democrats were negative, while the mentions of Trump were split between pro-Trump comments and comments discussing the enormous amount of Trump support the comment thread had received,” Goetemann said.

One comment that sums up this feeling is: “This only in: if you say the word” Trump “, more coronavirus droplets are spread than if you say the word” Biden “.”

“These comments reflect the post-fact reality of our nation,” said Goetemann. “We are far beyond political polarization, where facts can be spun in a favorable way for further political or ideological points of view. The discussion about the transmission of COVID-19 aerosols never resulted in disagreement regarding the proposed safety guidelines, but remained immobile through challenges to legitimacy and reliance on authoritative sources of information and scientific research. “