The largest anti-vaxxers of the Internet lose a major platform where they spread their lies about vaccines.
YouTube announced a major update to its medical misinformation policy that will see Google’s proprietary platform ban all types of anti-vaccination content.
Following the policy update, YouTube prohibited major anti-vaxxers, such as Joseph Mercola and Robert F. Kennedy Jr., from his service. Mercola and Kennedy are part of a group known by disinformation researchers as the “dozen of disinformation”.
Earlier this year, the Center for Countering Digital Hate and Anti-Vax Watch released a report. Detailing how just 12 prominent anti-vaxxer influencers are responsible for around 65% of anti-vaccine content on major social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
YouTube’s latest policy update expands on the company’s existing COVID-19 disinformation rules.
We have constantly seen false allegations about coronavirus vaccines spread into false information about vaccines in general. And we’re now at the point where it’s more important to extend the work we started with COVID-19 to other vaccines YouTube said in its statement.
New YouTube vaccine misinformation policies prohibit content that falsely claims that approved vaccines are harmful and cause chronic health effects. The platform will also not allow false claims about vaccines related to disease transmission or contraction and disinformation related to vaccines.
The new policy specifically mentions some long-standing falsehoods in the anti-vaxxer movement concerning vaccines used to track or monitor individuals or vaccines causing autism cancer or infertility.
The video platform says it has been working with local and international health organizations and experts to create these new rules on vaccines.
YouTube has struggled with managing COVID-19 content since the earliest days of the pandemic. In March 2020, before containment in the U.S., YouTube demonized all content on the novel coronavirus. Creators who made videos about COVID-19 during that time could not make money from it through YouTube’s Partner Program.
Just a few weeks later, YouTube overturned that decision and enabled creators to monetize content under COVID-19.
The evolution of YouTube’s current medical disinformation policies dates from late last year. To prevent the spread of misinformation in the months leading up to the arrival of vaccines. YouTube prohibited misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine in October 2020.
YouTube claims to have removed over 130,000 videos found in breach of its COVID-19 vaccine misinformation policies since last year.
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