YouTube, which has taken great pains in recent months to crack down on both conspiracy theories and videos that encourage viewers to harm themselves, is now removing content that claims drinking bleach can cure autism, cancer, malaria, and a host of other diseases.
The conspiracy theory was being peddled on YouTube by a self-proclaimed “archbishop” named Jim Humble, reports Business Insider, as well as others. Hundreds of videos have been made on the subject, and clips by the top 20 proponents of the conspiratorial cure were viewed by roughly 3 million fans. In his videos, Humble, who is the founder of a church known as Genesis II, claimed that the Miracle Mineral Solution (MMS) — which amounts to chlorine dioxide, an industrial bleach — “kills most of the diseases of mankind.”
All this despite the fact that the Food And Drug Administration (FDA) warns that ingesting bleach can cause nausea, vomiting, and severe dehydration, and notes that the claims surrounding MMS are unfounded, according to Business Insider. Furthermore, in 2010, the FDA warned that several people had suffered life-threatening low blood pressure — due to dehydration — after ingesting MMS. Two people who drank MMS are reported to have died.
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After being alerted by Business Insider, YouTube has removed and down-ranked most videos and channels touting MMS, though some remain live. YouTube told the outlet that it does not proactively search violating content, but steps in after it has been flagged.
“Misinformation is a difficult challenge and any misinformation on medical topics is especially concerning,” YouTube said in a statement. “We’ve taken a number of steps to address this including surfacing more authoritative content across our site for people searching for related topics on YouTube. However, our Community Guidelines prohibit content intended to encourage dangerous activities that have an inherent risk of physical harm, and we work to quickly remove flagged videos that violate these policies.”
In recent months, YouTube has also demonetized anti-vaccination videos amid advertiser outcry and also banned risky stunts like the ‘Bird Box‘ and ‘Tide Pod‘ challenges.