YouTube has changed its policies to ban videos claiming that vaccines approved by health authorities and the World Health Organization (WHO) are unsafe or ineffective.
The Google-owned video giant said videos falsely claiming vaccines do not reduce transmission or contraction will be removed from its platform.
Likewise, content that makes incorrect claims about the content of vaccines, including substances that track recipients, or their likelihood of causing cancer, autism or infertility will also be removed.
YouTube said it decided to change its rules after false claims about Covid-19 vaccines began to “spill misinformation about vaccines in general,” echoing Facebook’s example in banning content that mistakenly claims vaccines cause autism in February.
YouTube videos containing “personal testimonials” from users about their vaccine experience will still be allowed if the video follows other YouTube guidelines and does not fit into a larger vaccine reluctance pattern uploaded to a website. particular string.
“Given the importance of public discussion and debate to the scientific process, we will continue to allow content on vaccine policies, new vaccine trials, and historic vaccine successes or failures on YouTube,” the company said. in a press release. Blog Publish.
“Today’s policy update is an important step in tackling vaccine and health misinformation on our platform, and we will continue to invest at all levels in policies and products that provide high quality information to our viewers and the entire YouTube community. “
YouTube has been identified as a particularly fertile ground for vaccine misinformation. The company’s crackdown on anti-vaccine content resulted in the removal of three key members of the “disinformation dozen” – 12 people the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) had identified as being behind the big majority of anti-vaccine content circulating on social media. media.
Channels owned by Joseph Mercola, an entrepreneur in alternative medicine, Erin Elizabeth, author of the alternative health blog Health Nut News and the anti-vaccine group Children’s Health Defense, which had more than 500,000 subscribers in total, have all been cut. .
However, three channels owned by fellow anti-vaxx activists Kelly Brogan, Christiane Northrup and Ben Tapper, alongside two other beloved channels of Mercola, are still live and accessible, the CCDH has warned.
Imran Ahmed, director general of CCDH, said that while YouTube’s decision was a welcome move, more needed to be done to prevent the spread of vaccine misinformation on the platform.
“Right now there are people out of breath in intensive care units because they have been targeted by propaganda that has convinced them that vaccines will hurt them more than Covid. Many of them will not live, ”he said.
“Some members of Disinformation Dozen still have live channels, with over 100,000 subscribers in total. This is good news, but not mission accomplished.
YouTube announced that it was removing ads from anti-vaccination videos in 2019 and confirmed in October last year that it would remove videos peddling misinformation specifically related to Covid-19 vaccines.