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YouTube Chief Product Officer Neal Mohan. Photo: Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch

YouTube's product chief tells Axios that the Google-owned video site has removed thousands of COVID-19 videos — including some from the Brazilian president's channel — for violating policies related to the spread of medical misinformation.

Why it matters: Though criticized in the past for allowing misinformation to flourish, Facebook, Google and Twitter have all been taking a tougher stand when it comes to the coronavirus.

What they're saying: In an interview, Chief Product Officer Neal Mohan said YouTube has been focused on a twofold approach: making authoritative information more prominent and aggressively removing policy-violating content.

  • YouTube has been prominently surfacing videos from news organizations and health officials.
  • It's even been showing an information panel on its home page linking to national health agencies' websites — the first time YouTube has linked to a text site rather than a video. The panel has now been shown more than 9 billion times, Mohan said.
  • It's also worked with creators, including several who interviewed U.S. infectious disease prevention chief Anthony Fauci.

Meanwhile: YouTube is also aggressively enforcing existing medical misinformation policies that prohibit promoting false cures or encouraging people not to see a doctor.

  • And it expanded that policy to bar promoting actions that go against recommendations from national health authorities.
  • It was on that basis that the company took down posts by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who has downplayed the virus and the importance of social distancing and other precautions.

Be smart: In all, Mohan said, YouTube has removed thousands of videos.

Unlike Facebook and Twitter, YouTube's policies are entirely focused on the content of a video and not who is doing the speaking. That means politicians, journalists, and entertainers are all held to the same standard, at least in theory.

Mohan was more equivocal when asked if someone could post, say, a video suggesting people try a medicine that had yet to be approved by the FDA for treating the coronavirus.

"That gets at the challenge," Mohan acknowledged. "It's a balancing act.... We are not medical experts ourselves."

Mohan said that he has other product changes on his to-do list, but acknowledges the virus and related issues have occupied most of his attention.

  • "We are heads-down on this challenge," he said. "When we come up for air we will take a look."

Go deeper: Coronavirus inspires divergent messages and misinformation

Correction: This story originally said that YouTube, unlike Facebook and Google, based its misinformation policy solely on the content rather than who is saying it. That should have said that, unlike Facebook and Twitter, Google and YouTube both base their decisions solely on content, while Twitter and Facebook have some different policies for certain people, such as politicians.

Go deeper

Cuomo: "No way I resign" after sexual harassment accusations

Cuomo at a Feb. 24 press conference. Photo: Seth Wenig/pool/AFP via Getty Images

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) was defiant on Sunday, stating again that he would not resign even as more former aides have come forward with allegations of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior.

The big picture: Cuomo has denied all sexual harassment allegations against him and said that he "never inappropriately touched anybody." He acknowledged in a statement that "some of the things I have said have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation." Some of the calls for Cuomo to resign have come from within the Democratic party.

N.Y. Times faces culture clashes as business booms

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

New York Times columnist David Brooks' resignation from a paid gig at a think tank on Saturday is the latest in a flurry of scandals that America's biggest and most successful newspaper company has endured in the past year.

Driving the news: Brooks resigned from the Aspen Institute following a BuzzFeed News investigation that uncovered conflicts of interest between his reporting and money he accepted from corporate donors for a project called "Weave" that he worked on at the nonprofit.

America rebalances its post-Trump news diet

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Nearly halfway through President Biden's first 100 days, data shows that Americans are learning to wean themselves off of news — and especially politics.

Why it matters: The departure of former President Trump's once-ubiquitous presence in the news cycle has reoriented the country's attention.