YouTube banned disinformation about Covid vaccinations, just days after Facebook took similar action on its own platform.
The company claims that the fact that such a vaccine could be imminent makes it a good time to take action and expand its pre-existing policies against medical misinformation about Covid-19.
“A Covid-19 vaccine may be imminent, which is why we are making sure we have the right policies in place to be able to remove misinformation related to a Covid-19 vaccine from the platform,” said a door – spoken by YouTube. “Any content containing claims regarding Covid-19 vaccinations that contradict the consensus of experts from local health authorities or the World Health Organization (WHO) will be removed from YouTube.”
Examples of now-banned claims include false claims that the vaccine will kill people or cause infertility, or that the vaccine will somehow implant microchips in recipients.
“To date, we have deleted more than 200,000 videos related to dangerous or misleading information about Covid-19 since the beginning of February,” the spokesperson continued.
The company has faced extensive criticism of its disinformation policies in the past, which have been characterized by “infoboxes” that it places under videos on controversial topics. The boxes, which simply link to a Wikipedia page on the controversy in question, have been ridiculed by users as doing little to address the basic problem of disinformation.
Andy Pattison, head of digital solutions at the World Health Organization, said the WHO meets weekly with the YouTube policy team to discuss trends in potentially problematic content and videos. Pattison said the WHO was encouraged by YouTube’s announcement of misinformation about the coronavirus vaccine.
YouTube said it would announce more steps in the coming weeks to showcase the authoritative information about Covid-19 vaccines on the site.
YouTube’s new policy comes a day after Facebook expanded its own vaccine content policy to ban ads that militate against vaccines. This policy has been criticized for leaving a loophole that continues to allow anti-vaccination ads as long as they have a political message. For example, an ad that called for the government not to provide a Covid-19 vaccine would be allowed, Facebook said, even though it may do so by questioning the effectiveness or safety of the vaccines.