YouTube is cracking down. The streaming platform has announced a tougher policy towards anti-vaccine content. From now on, YouTube will be able to remove comments that criticize approved vaccines. A turning point for the platform that means it will no longer only target "fake news" about vaccines against covid-19.
The Covid-19 pandemic has forced platforms to improve their moderation and monitoring policies regarding false information. With this in mind, YouTube announced this Wednesday, September 29, a strengthening of its policy against video content relaying anti-vaccine statements. "Vaccines in particular have been a source of fierce debate over the years, despite consistent guidance from health authorities about their effectiveness. 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," YouTube outlined.
Autism, cancer, infertility...
From now on, the streaming platform will be able to make the decision to remove such content, whether it concerns the covid-19 vaccines or other vaccines already approved by the WHO. This is a reinforcement of its measures already in place for fighting misinformation. Content that questions the effectiveness of approved vaccines and claims that these vaccines can cause various forms of harm to vaccine recipients will now be subject to being promptly deleted by YouTube: "Specifically, content that 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. Our policies not only cover specific routine immunizations like for measles or Hepatitis B, but also apply to general statements about vaccines," detailed the American giant.
YouTube pointed out that it has developed 10 new policies regarding its misinformation regulations with input from medical experts. Since October 2020, the streaming platform said it has removed more than 130,000 videos for violating covid-19 vaccine regulations.
Can the subject still be open for debate?
While these measures may seem drastic, the platform asserts that it will leave the debate open... on vaccines still in development as well as personal stories from viewers, within the platform's rules of use: "There are important exceptions to our new guidelines. 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."