At first, YouTube applied its sensitive events policy and placed the coronavirus outbreak under "atrocious acts that result in the loss of human lives." That policy is meant to cover short-term events of significant magnitude, like a natural disaster.
"It's becoming clear this issue is now an ongoing and important part of everyday conversation, and we want to make sure news organizations and creators can continue producing quality videos in a sustainable way," YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki wrote in a letter to creators.
To start, YouTube will enable ads for a few channels, including those who self-certify. Wojcicki says YouTube is preparing policies to expand monetization to more creators and news organizations in the coming weeks.
The changes show the fine line YouTube has to walk. It wants to avoid monetizing bogus videos, but it also needs to allow legit outlets to produce useful content. If nothing else, this is a reminder that it's difficult to apply sweeping policies, and YouTube may have to consider "sensitive events" on more of a case-by-case basis.