YouTube is banning from its platform all “harmful” anti-vaccine content, which was determined with the help of “health authorities,” the Google-owned site announced on Wednesday.
According to the announcement, YouTube is expanding its “medical misinformation policies” to include “harmful vaccine content” relating to “currently administered vaccines that are approved and confirmed to be safe and effective by local health authorities and the [World Health Organization].”
“Working closely with health authorities, we looked to balance our commitment to an open platform with the need to remove egregious harmful content,” the announcement stated. “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.”
The policy changes go into effect on Wednesday.
The Washington Post reported that several YouTube channels linked to well-known anti-vaccine activists are being taken down, including Joseph Mercola and Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
Both Mercola, who is a prominent alternative medicine entrepreneur, and Kennedy, a lawyer and son of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, have said that they are not against all vaccinations, but have concerns that information regarding the risks is being censored.
YouTube’s announcement explained that content which “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.”
“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,” it continued. “Our policies not only cover specific routine immunizations like for measles or Hepatitis B, but also apply to general statements about vaccines.”
The announcement said the site will still allow content about vaccine policies, new vaccine trials, and historical vaccine successes or failures. Personal testimonials will also be permitted, barring any violation of other Community Guidelines, including a pattern of promoting vaccine hesitancy.
“Today’s 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,” the announcement concluded.