Beginning Wednesday, YouTube will remove videos which claim that vaccines approved by health officials as safe are ineffective or harmful as part of a push to cut down on anti-vaccine content, according to multiple reports.
The move comes months after the Google-owned video streaming platform banned misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines. Matt Halprin, YouTube’s vice president of global trust and safety, told The Washington Post that officials were focused on dealing with misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines when they noticed that misinformation about other vaccines, like those for measles or chickenpox, were contributing to ongoing distrust regarding the shots.
“Developing robust policies takes time,” Halprin told the newspaper. “We wanted to launch a policy that is comprehensive, enforceable with consistency and adequately addresses the challenge.”
Under the new policy, YouTube will also remove the channels of “prominent vaccine misinformation spreaders,” including Joseph Mercola, Erin Elizabeth, Sherri Tenpenny and the Robert F. Kennedy Jr.-affiliated Children’s Health Defense Fund, Axios reported. The company will continue to allow for scientific discussions about vaccines and personal testimony that doesn’t generalize or make broad claims about vaccine efficacy, according to news site.
“We’ll remove claims that vaccines are dangerous or cause a lot of health effects, that vaccines cause autism, cancer, infertility or contain microchips,” Halprin told the Post. He added that the policy will apply to all languages YouTube operates in and that “at least hundreds” of moderators at the company were focused specifically on tackling medical misinformation.
Companies like YouTube, Facebook and Twitter have faced growing scrutiny from regulators and lawmakers over their roles in perpetuating misinformation. In February, officials with Facebook announced that the company was banning all vaccine misinformation and encouraging Americans to get their shots, Vox reported. Officials with Twitter said in March that the company was banning posts containing misleading information about COVID-19 vaccines.
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