YouTube banned several prominent anti-vaxxers amid a company-wide crackdown on all anti-vaccine content, The Washington Post reports.
YouTube removed the accounts of high-profile anti-vaxxers like Robert Kennedy Jr. and Joseph Mercola and said it will ban any videos that claim that any vaccine -- not just the Covid shot -- are ineffective or dangerous.
The company previously banned false claims about the Covid vaccine but not videos pushing misinformation about shots for illnesses like measles or chickenpox.
Matt Halprin, YouTube’s vice president of global trust and safety, told the Post that the company did not act sooner because it was focused on combating Covid misinformation but realized that false claims about other vaccines were feeding fears about the Covid shot.
“Developing robust policies takes time,” Halprin said. “We wanted to launch a policy that is comprehensive, enforceable with consistency and adequately addresses the challenge.”
Misinformation slowing vaccination:
Experts have long warned that vaccine misinformation, particularly on YouTube, was contributing to falling immunization rates in the United States and other countries.
Vaccination rates have slowed in the US, where just 56% of the population has gotten both shots compared to 71% in Canada and 67% in the UK.
Biden over the summer blamed social media companies for contributing to the spread of misinformation and called for them to do more.
What about other social networks?
Facebook banned all vaccine misinformation in the beginning of the year but pages for both Kennedy and Mercola are still up.
Both anti-vaxxers also still have active Twitter accounts.
YouTube will try to sort out differences between anti-vaccine misinformation and people with legitimate medical concerns.
“We’ll remove claims that vaccines are dangerous or cause a lot of health effects, that vaccines cause autism, cancer, infertility or contain microchips,” Halprin said, adding that “at least hundreds” of moderators are working specifically on medical misinformation.