YouTube on Wednesday announced a total ban on vaccine misinformation and the termination of the accounts of several prominent anti-vaccine influencers, including Joseph Mercola and Robert F. Kennedy Jr, citing “the need to remove egregious and harmful content.”
YouTube cracks down on anti-vaccine videos, bans top accounts
The new policy was crafted when the company began seeing false claims about Covid-19 vaccines that “spread to misinformation about vaccines in general.”
“We are now at a point where it is more important than ever to expand the work we started with COVID-19 to other vaccines,” the company wrote.
YouTube already had a policy against misinformation about Covid vaccines, but the new ban against broader vaccine misinformation includes content that falsely claims approved vaccines are dangerous or ineffective, including the false belief that vaccines cause autism or cancer.
YouTube’s move follows a similar ban in February by Facebook.
Facebook’s uneven enforcement against prominent anti-vaccine activists and its failure to control vaccine misinformation since then highlights the challenges ahead for YouTube in enforcing against the anti-vaccine community, known for its ability to circumvent content moderation.
Antivaccine creators have thrived on YouTube for more than a decade, moving to the Google-owned platform after traditional media stopped promoting their messages.
Antivaccine content was so pervasive that vaccine advocacy organizations were forced to leave the platform years ago.
A YouTube spokesperson confirmed that the new policy included terminating the accounts of anti-vaccine influencers.