UNITED STATES: YouTube will block all anti-vaccine content, a step-ahead of its ban on false information about COVID-19 vaccines to include sources that contain misinformation about other approved vaccines, the social media giant announced in a blog post on Wednesday.
YouTube said that the expanded policy will apply to “currently administered vaccines that are approved and confirmed to be safe and effective by local health authorities and the WHO (World Health Organization).”
For instance; content that won’t be allowed on YouTube include claims that the flu vaccine causes infertility and that the MMR shot, which protects against measles, mumps, and rubella, can cause autism, according to YouTube’s policies.
YouTube said content that “falsely says that approved vaccines cause autism, cancer or infertility, or that substances in vaccines can track those who receive them” will be taken down.
“As with any significant update, it will take time for our systems to fully ramp up enforcement,” YouTube added.
The new policy will also see false claims about routine immunisations for diseases like Hepatitis B and influenza removed from YouTube, including cases where vloggers who post content on the platform have claimed that approved vaccines do not work, or are wrongly linked them to chronic health effects.
The online video company owned by Alphabet Inc (GOOGL.O) is also banning channels associated with several prominent anti-vaccine activists including Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Joseph Mercola, a YouTube spokesperson said.
A press email for Mercola’s website said in a statement: “We are united across the world, we will not live in fear, we will stand together and restore our freedoms.”
Kennedy, who is a member of the prominent US political family, said in a statement: “There is no instance in history when censorship and secrecy has advanced either democracy or public health.”
The moves come as YouTube and other tech giants like Facebook and Twitter have been criticized for not doing enough to stop the spread of false health information on their sites.
On Tuesday, Russian state-backed broadcaster RT’s German-language channels were deleted from YouTube for breaching its COVID-19 misinformation policy.
Russia on Wednesday called the move “unprecedented information aggression,” and threatened to block YouTube.
YouTube is not the only social media giant grappling with how to deal with the spread of COVID-19 conspiracy theories and hoax medical information in general.
This month Facebook launched a renewed effort to tackle violence and conspiracy groups, beginning by taking down a German network spreading COVID-19 misinformation.