The spread of COVID-19 vaccine information in Arabic on YouTube: A network exposure study. Academic Article uri icon


  • OBJECTIVE: The Arabic-speaking world had the lowest vaccine rates worldwide. The region's increasing reliance on social media as a source of COVID-19 information coupled with the increasing popularity of YouTube in the Middle East and North Africa region begs the question of what COVID-19 vaccine content is available in Arabic on YouTube. Given the platform's reputation for being a hotbed for vaccine-related misinformation in English, this study explored the COVID-19 vaccine-related content an individual is likely to be exposed to on YouTube when using keyword-based search or redirected to YouTube from another platform from an anti-vaccine seed video in Arabic. METHODS: Only using the Arabic language, four networks of videos based on YouTube's recommendations were created in April 2021. Two search networks were created based on Arabic pro-vaccine and anti-vaccine keywords, and two seed networks were created from conspiracy theory and anti-vaccine expert seed videos. The network exposure model was used to examine the video contents and network structures. RESULTS: Results show that users had a low chance of being exposed to anti-vaccine content in Arabic compared to the results of a previous study of YouTube content in English. Of the four networks, only the anti-vaccine expert network had a significant likelihood of exposing the user to more anti-vaccine videos. Implications were discussed. CONCLUSION: YouTube deserves credit for its efforts to clean up and limit anti-vaccine content exposure in Arabic on its platform, but continuous evaluations of the algorithm functionality are warranted.

published proceedings

  • Digit Health

author list (cited authors)

  • Zeid, N., Tang, L. u., & Amith, M. T.

complete list of authors

  • Zeid, Nour||Tang, Lu||Amith, Muhammad Tuan

publication date

  • January 2023