YouTube moves to ban all content that discusses adverse effects from vaccines and anti-vaccine content on the platform

In a blog post from YouTube, the company states that “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.”

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This is a step further from YouTube’s initial ban on what the company called false information about the COVID-19 vaccines. The new policy will include vaccines beyond COVID-19 vaccines.

In the post from YouTube, the company states:

“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.”

“Our Community Guidelines already prohibit certain types of medical misinformation. We’ve long removed content that promotes harmful remedies, such as saying drinking turpentine can cure diseases.”

“At the onset of COVID-19, we built on these policies when the pandemic hit, and worked with experts to develop 10 new policies around COVID-19 and medical misinformation

YouTube says that “Since last year, we’ve removed over 130,000 videos for violating our COVID-19 vaccine policies.” 

The company says that through the work they’ve done in the past year, they have learned lessons about “how to design and enforce nuanced medical misinformation policies at scale.” and that by working with health authorities “we looked to balance our commitment to an open platform with the need to remove egregious harmful content.”

However, YouTube says that they’ve witnessed “false claims about the coronavirus vaccines spill over into misinformation about vaccines in general,” and that the company is “now at a point where it’s more important than ever to expand the work we started with COVID-19 to other vaccines.”

“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.”

YouTube says that the new policies will not only cover specific vaccines like ones for measles or Hepatitis B, but will “also apply to general statements about vaccines.”

However, YouTube says there will be a limited list of exceptions to the new guidelines.

“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.“

Right now, it is unclear how these new policies will affect content creators that cover the controversial subject on the platform. 

Read YouTube’s full announcement here.

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