YouTube will show personal stories of patients in search results for health-related queries

YouTube announced Wednesday that it will show a new section called “Personal Stories” in search results starting this week when users enter health-related queries. The company said when people search for videos of certain health conditions on YouTube, it will show a panel featuring videos from people who are diagnosed with those disorders.

The company said it observed that a lot of people come to the platform to better understand complex things in a digestible way — such as human biology or complicated ailments.

The video streaming service said people also come to search for the more human-centric questions about conditions such as “How do I live with this?”; “How did other people live with this?”; “Does it ever get better?”;” How do I support my loved one through this?” — all questions the company interprets as seeking firsthand accounts from people with experience.

YouTube said that at launch, the Personal Stories section will show videos related to cancer and mental health conditions like anxiety and depression. Later, the company will expand this feature to cover other topics and other regions outside the U.S.

“To be eligible for the shelf, videos must primarily focus on a personal, authentic lived experience that is relevant to a specific physical or mental health condition. Content that is promotional in nature is not eligible for this feature, and all videos that appear in this feature must comply with our policies that prevent the spread of health misinformation,” the company said in a blog post.

While this feature is not meant for getting medical advice, YouTube has faced a lot of criticism over health-related misinformation — especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier this year, more than 80 fact-checkers across the world wrote to YouTube about taking stricter actions against videos related to COVID misinformation. No doubt YouTube will face scrutiny for what kinds of videos are featured in this new “Personal Stories” section and how well they’re able to moderate the content presented.