YouTube CEO writes to PM Imran, pledges $5 million to spread virus awareness in Pakistan

09 May 2020

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In this January, 2020 file photo, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki speaks to Prime Minister Imran Khan on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum annual meeting.­ — INP/File
In this January, 2020 file photo, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki speaks to Prime Minister Imran Khan on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum annual meeting.­ — INP/File

YouTube will give Pakistan $5 million in advertisement grants to spread awareness about the coronavirus, it emerged on Saturday.

In a letter written to Prime Minister Imran Khan, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, YouTube Chief Executive Officer Susan Wojcicki outlined the work "Google and YouTube have been doing to support Pakistan's citizens and businesses through this difficult time".

The letter stated that the tech companies are helping local authorities in the country spread information about the coronavirus through information panels and alerts. Google has also launched a microsite which will appear when anyone searches for coronavirus. The website draws its content from the government's Covid-19 portal, it added.

The online platforms are also combating misinformation and online abuse by showing authoritative sources in top results. "We will continue to quickly remove videos ... that discourage people from seeking medical treatment or claim harmful substances have health benefits," the letter read.

Outlining resources for learning and working from home amid the coronavirus pandemic, the letter said that Google has created Grow with Google Pakistan — containing resources for "all kinds of remote workers" and Teach from Home — containing resources for educators. It has also created other learning resources for children and professionals.

The letter added that Google was also publishing community mobility reports, using data collected through Google Maps. "We hope that the reports [on movement] can help public health officials in Pakistan, and governments elsewhere respond to the coronavirus," it said.

The letter also offered cooperation with the Pakistani government in creating a "credible and globally consistent digital policy and regulatory framework".

Prime Minister Imran met with the YouTube CEO in January this year on the sidelines of the 50th World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland.

The two leaders held discussions on utilising digital platforms for building Pakistan’s image. The Pakistani entourage also discussed the possibilities of promoting tourism, education and attracting investment through digital platforms.

After the meeting, Tania Aidrus, head of Digital Pakistan, said on Twitter that in the “great meeting”, the two sides discussed efforts to support the thriving content creator community in Pakistan and how the country could work with YouTube to promote responsible digital journalism.