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Google search panels launch to counter vaccine misinformation

Starting in the UK, and rolling out to move countries as vaccines are approved

Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Google is launching new vaccine information panels in its search results to counter misinformation and educate people about what’s available in their location, the company announced today. The panels are rolling out starting in the United Kingdom, where the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine is approved and is being administered, and will be introduced in more countries as local health authorities begin authorizing vaccines.

The panels include information on each individual vaccine, and aim to address vaccine misinformation, and give guidance about how, when, and where people can receive the shots. Google has used similar information panels to share information about COVID-19 generally, as well as the locations of testing centers.

The information panels will provide information about approved vaccines.
Image: Google

In addition to search results, Google says it is sharing similar vaccine information via its COVID-19 panels on YouTube. These were first launched in March to share information about the pandemic, and Google says they’ve been viewed over 400 billion times since. Google has also been cracking down on anti-vax content on YouTube, and announced in October that it would remove videos containing COVID-19 vaccine misinformation. It now says it’s removed over 700,000 videos “related to dangerous or misleading COVID-19 medical information.”

Finally, Google has announced it’s providing more funds to help health authorities and the media provide useful information about vaccines and debunk misinformation. The company is providing an additional $15 million in ad grants to the World Health Organization to help it promote health initiatives, and it’s spending $1.5 million to support fact-checking research and fund a COVID-19 Vaccine Media Hub, which is intended to be a resource for journalists to help give them access to scientific expertise and research updates. It’s also funding research into how to counteract vaccine misinformation.

In total, Google says it has launched over 200 products, features, and initiatives in response to the pandemic.