As the world moves into a new phase of the pandemic, and we recognise the unpredictability of COVID-19, ensuring Kiwis receive critical, timely and accurate information has never been more important.
That’s why we’re continuing to support the Government, nonprofits and authoritative news organisations in their efforts by focusing on three priority areas: ensuring people can access the latest and most authoritative information; amplifying vital safety and vaccination messages; and providing financial backing to health authorities and other organisations.
Providing critical and authoritative information
On all our platforms, we’re taking steps to surface the critical information families and communities need to care for their own health and look after others.
Image: Searches on the COVID-19 vaccine display key information around vaccination rates and health authority resources, while treatment-related queries surface guidance from the World Health Organisation.
When people ask questions about vaccines on Google Search, they see information panels that display the latest updates on vaccine safety, efficacy and side-effects, plus registration information that directs to the Government’s covid.govt.nz site. We’re also keeping Kiwis up to date with all the latest COVID-19 news here.
Google’s mission is to organise the world’s information to make it universally accessible and useful. Clearly, misinformation and disinformation run contrary to that mission. Where people encounter content that’s unreliable or actively designed to mislead them, our apps and services do not serve their purpose of connecting people with content that is relevant and useful to them, and we risk losing their trust. As such, we take these issues seriously. Our goal is to elevate high quality content and authoritative sources, remove content and behaviours that infringe on our community guidelines and reduce the spread of potentially harmful information. Since the start of the pandemic, YouTube’s policy to address medical misinformation about COVID-19 was enforced. We recently expanded this policy to include currently administered vaccines that are approved and confirmed to be safe and effective by local health authorities and the World Health Organisation.
Sharing helpful information through Maps
To make it easier for Kiwis to find locations of vaccination centres nationwide, we’re now sharing these in Search and Maps. And we’re continuing to work closely with the Ministry of Health to make more vaccination center information available.
Image: Searching for vaccines in Maps and Search now shows vaccination centers across the country.
The Community Mobility Reports, which have been published since early 2020 and analyse aggregate, anonymised location history and provide local insights into the impact of social distancing, continue to be updated. These reports aim to provide insights into what has changed in response to policies aimed at combating COVID-19.
Supporting health authorities and addressing misinformation
It is important that Kiwis find critical information they need when they are searching for it, which is why we’re providing Ad Grants to both the Te Puni Kōkiri -Ministry of Māori Development and the New Zealand Government. Since the start of the pandemic, we've donated around NZ$18m in Ad Grants to the New Zealand Government, small businesses and NGOs, helping them to get their messages out and ensuring people can get help when they need it most. We have also run Doodles across our New Zealand Search page, to encourage mask wearing, vaccinations, and also to show appreciation of the healthcare workers that continue to work hard to support us during this time. New Zealand searches for ‘COVID-19 vaccine’ reached their peak in August.
Image: Get Vaccinated, Wear a Mask Google Doodle which ran in August & September.
As New Zealand continues the vaccine roll-out we’ll keep doing all we can to support these efforts.