YouTube is making money off of a false conspiracy theory, which has quickly spread among right-wing figures, claiming that a new proposal would allow the World Health Organization to override the laws and policies of individual countries in order to remove civil liberties and implement lockdowns.
In actuality, as noted by PolitiFact, “The World Health Organization has launched a public process to revamp a key guiding document, the International Health Regulations,” with lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic. “Those rules define how the multilateral community will respond to a future pandemic,” the piece continues, and “the American changes would require the WHO to share information faster about a newly discovered public health risk.” The fact check went on to explain that if an affected country rejected its help, the WHO would immediately notify others of the potential risk, but the proposal “includes no power to override what a country decides to do.”
Despite the facts, a review by Media Matters using the search tool BuzzSumo found multiple videos on YouTube pushing the conspiracy theory alongside revenue-generating ads. One of the channels also advertises merchandise under the video, and YouTube may get a cut of the sales, according to the platform.
In total, YouTube has allowed videos pushing the WHO conspiracy theory to rack up well over 100,000 combined views.
YouTube has created a monetization crisis on its platform by repeatedly allowing channels to monetize videos that violate the platform’s own rules, along with allowing ads to run on videos pushing misinformation in general.