Youtubeis coming down hard on misinformation and will be banning all anti-vaxx content, starting with larger channels such as that of Joseph Mercoa and the Robert F. Kennedy Jr.-linked Children’s Defense Fund, who experts believe are driving vaccine hesitation and scepticism.
Youtube cracks down on vaccine misinformation
Last year the video platformbanned videos containing incorrect vaccine information, which saw 133,000 videos taken down. But it seems Youtube is committing even more to the race against COVID-19 by putting their foot down on all videos that claim an approved vaccine is dangerous or causes chronic health problems.
The new policy isn’t just limited to COVID but also supports the ban of any misinformation around vaccines such as flu shots and the measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) jab, which is famously and inaccurately blamed for causing autism.
Youtube is also said to be banning videos that contain misinformation about what is inside the vaccines, such as microchips, as this is thought to confuse and spark fear in viewers.
A Youtube spokesperson released in a statement: ‘We've steadily seen false claims about the coronavirus vaccines spill over into misinformation about vaccines in general, and we're now at a point where it's more important than ever to expand the work we started with COVID-19 to other vaccines.’
Specifically, content that falsely alleges that approved vaccines are dangerous and cause chronic health effects claims that vaccines do not reduce transmission or contraction of disease or contains misinformation on the substances contained in vaccines will be removed.
The statement continued: ‘This would include content that falsely says that approved vaccines cause autism, cancer or infertility, or that substances in vaccines can track those who receive them.’
Our policies not only cover specific routine immunisations like for measles or Hepatitis B, but also apply to general statements about vaccines.
But here’s the exception…
Wednesday’s policy will see the termination of channels belonging to the ‘Disinformation Dozen’, which the nonprofit Center for Countering Digital Hate has identified as the leading agents in spreading anti-vaxx content shared online.
However, a few videos will still be allowed to slip through Youtube’s anti-vaxx cracks, including personal recounts and testimonies of vaccine experiences.
Youtube will also still allow videos around ‘vaccine policies, new vaccine trials and historical vaccine successes or failures.’ However, these videos will also be removed from the platform if they ‘demonstrate a pattern of promoting vaccine misinformation.’
According to the Washington Post, Youtube also intends to reinstall vaccine confidence by uploading content featuring trusted health professionals such as the National Academy of Medicine and the Cleveland Clinic. Youtube added to their statement:
Policy update is an important step to address vaccine and health misinformation on our platform, and we'll continue to invest across the board in the policies and products that bring high-quality information to our viewers and the entire YouTube community.
Youtube is not the first social media giant to crack down on anti-vaxx content. Facebook similarly expanded their guidelines seven months ago in order to ban anti-vaxx content.