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YouTube: Brazilians prefer channels filled with misleading Covid-19 info

. May 20, 2020
Brazilians watch over three times more YouTube videos containing Covid-19 misinformation than content from reliable sources. Photo: Piotr Piatrouski/Shutterstock

According to a study entitled “Contaminated Science,” Brazilians watch over three times more YouTube videos containing Covid-19 misinformation than content from reliable sources. The study focused on the spread of falsehoods concerning the pandemic and was a joint effort by multiple institutions, such as the University of São Paulo’s Health Law Studies and Research Center. 

President Jair Bolsonaro can be considered among those who prefer misinformation. This week, he recommended a video from a doctor who suggested “sunbathing” could help avoid infection. The post was later deleted by Instagram. Other alleged experts said on YouTube that the coronavirus “is not a problem at all,” telling people that their “immunity is what determines whether they will be infected or not.” 

Videos with a high production value can persuade people and researchers, regardless of their misleading content. Meanwhile, the Brazilian Health Ministry’s official YouTube channel has just 234,000 followers — and its reach is sometimes 4 or 5 times smaller than the misinformation channels endorsed by Mr. Bolsonaro.

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Lucas Berti

Lucas Berti covers international affairs—specializing Latin American politics and markets. He has been published by Opera Mundi, Revista VIP, and The Intercept Brasil, among others.

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