YouTube is broadening its crackdown on vaccine misinformation, instituting an outright ban on all videos that contain lies about any vaccines that have been approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) or local health authorities, and not just COVID-19 — for which it has already had policies in place since November.
YouTube also already prohibits other forms of medical misinformation, it noted, including content that promoted harmful remedies for COVID or other diseases. And since last year, it says it has removed over 130,000 videos for spreading COVID-19 vaccine misinformation.
NBC News reports that in tandem with the new policy, YouTube will ban the accounts of prominent anti-vax creators including Joseph Mercola and Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
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“We’ve steadily seen false claims about the coronavirus vaccines spill over into misinformation about vaccines in general,” the company wrote in a blog post, “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.”
Going forward, YouTube will ban content that alleges approved vaccines are dangerous and cause chronic health effects, including claims that vaccines do not work or inaccurate claims about ingredients. YouTibe will also remove content that says vaccines cause autism, cancer, infertility, or bestow the ability to track people who receive them.
There will be exceptions, YouTube says, including content about vaccine policies, vaccine trials, historical vaccine successes or failures, and personal testimonies — so long as the video doesn’t violate the above guidelines or show a pattern of promoting vaccine hesitancy.