YouTube is cracking down on medical misinformation—especially anti-vaccine content. In a blog post Wednesday, the platform said it is expanding a ban on false claims about COVID vaccines to cover other vaccines. YouTube said the ban includes content that "falsely alleges that approved vaccines are dangerous and cause chronic health effects" or denies that they reduce disease transmission. It said the banned content includes claims vaccines cause autism or contain tracking devices. It applies to claims about specific approved vaccines as as well as claims about vaccines in general. YouTube has also now banned the accounts of high-profile anti-vaxxers including Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Joseph Mercola, reports Variety.
YouTube said there are "important exceptions" to the ban and "content about vaccine policies, new vaccine trials, and historical vaccine successes or failures" will still be allowed. Personal testimonials will also be permitted, as long as the channel doesn't show "a pattern of promoting vaccine hesitancy." The move brings YouTube in line with Facebook, which banned all anti-vaccine misinformation content seven months ago, the Washington Post reports.
YouTube said it has removed more than 130,000 videos for violating its policies on COVID vaccines over the last year. "Borderline" videos promoting vaccine skepticism, however, were removed from search results and recommendations but not banned outright during that time, the New York Times reports. YouTube said it "consulted with local and international health organizations and experts" in developing its policies on COVID content. It said it built on existing policies against medical misinformation, including a ban on claims that "drinking turpentine can cure diseases." (Read more YouTube stories.)