YouTube, and fellow tech behemoths Twitter and Facebook have come in for sharp criticism for not doing enough to prevent the dissemination of false health information.
YouTube has announced a blanket ban on all anti-vaccine content as it moves beyond its ban on false information on Covid-19 vaccines to include all content that contains misinformation about approved vaccines.
“Today, we’re expanding our medical misinformation policies on YouTube with new guidelines on currently administered vaccines that are approved and confirmed to be safe and effective by local health authorities and the WHO (World Health Organization),” the Alphabet-owned online video company said in a blog post.
Examples of content that go against YouTube’s policies include claims that flu vaccines cause infertility and that the MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) shot causes autism.
YouTube will also ban channels associated with prominent anti-vaccine activists such as Joseph Mercola and Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a YouTube spokesperson told Reuters.
An email to press on behalf of Mercola’s website said: “We are united across the world, we will not live in fear, we will stand together and restore our freedoms.”
Kennedy said in his statement: “There is no instance in history when censorship and secrecy has advanced either democracy or public health.”
YouTube, and fellow tech behemoths Twitter and Facebook have come in for sharp criticism in recent months for not doing enough to prevent the dissemination of false health information from their platforms.
Elaborating on in decision in the blog post, YouTube added: “Given the importance of public discussion and debate to the scientific process, we will continue to allow content about vaccine policies, new vaccine trials, and historical vaccine successes or failures on YouTube.”
“Personal testimonials relating to vaccines will also be allowed, so long as the video doesn’t violate other Community Guidelines, or the channel doesn’t show a pattern of promoting vaccine hesitancy.”
The Alphabet-owned company has already deleted the German-language channels of RT, Russia’s state-backed broadcaster, for alleged breach of the new Covid-19 misinformation policy. The move has already sparked backlash with Russia calling the move “unprecedented information aggression” and threatening to block YouTube.