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Due to Anti-Vaxxers continually promoting non-scientific and nonsense content, Google’s sister product, YouTube, has said no more.
The online video sharing platform explained that crafting policy around medical misinformation involves inherent challenges and trade-offs. “Scientific understanding evolves as new research emerges, and first-hand, personal experience regularly plays a powerful role in online discourse.”
YouTube pointed out that vaccines have been a source of fierce debate over the years. This is despite consistent guidance from health authorities about their effectiveness. As a result, the video streaming platform highlighted that it continues to expand on its medical misinformation policies. This will note new guidelines on currently administered vaccines 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.”
Since last year, YouTube removed over 130,000 videos for violating their COVID-19 vaccine policies.
As per their statement, the company has learned valuable lessons about designing and enforcing nuanced medical misinformation policies at scale.
Working closely with health authorities, YouTube said that it had balanced its commitment to an open platform with the need to remove egregious, harmful content. “We’ve steadily seen false claims about the coronavirus vaccines spill over into misinformation about vaccines in general, and we’re now at a point where it’s more important than ever to expand the work we started with COVID-19 to other vaccines.”
Therefore, specifically, content that falsely alleges that approved vaccines are dangerous and cause chronic health issues. Coupled with claims that vaccines do not reduce transmission or contraction of the disease, or contain misinformation on vaccines’ substances, will be removed.
This will include content that falsely states that approved vaccines cause autism, cancer or infertility. Or that substances in vaccines can track those who receive them. (You know, all the crazy conspiracies).
Moreover, Youtube affirmed, “Our policies cover specific routine immunisations like for measles or Hepatitis B and apply to general statements about vaccines.”
As with its COVID guidelines, the YouTube team consulted with local and international health organisations, and experts, in developing these policies.
“For example, our new guidance on vaccine side effects maps to public vaccine resources provided by health authorities and backed by medical consensus.”
These policy changes have already gone into effect as of 29 September 2021, and as with any significant update, YouTube says it will take time for our systems to ramp up enforcement fully.
However, it is essential to note that there are important exceptions to the new guidelines.
Given the importance of public discussion and debate to the scientific process, YouTube announced that it would 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.”
Further stating, “All of this compliments our ongoing work to raise up authoritative health information on our platform and connect people with credible, quality health content and sources.”
YouTube explained that the policy update is an important step to address vaccine and health misinformation on the popular platform, and Youtube will continue to invest across the board in the policies and products that bring high-quality information to their viewers.
But YouTube is not the only platform implementing strict policies around medical misinformation.
Facebook is also taking the matter seriously, removing false vaccine claims, reducing the distribution of inaccurate health information, and informing people about effective vaccine delivery.
As YouTube and Facebook take the necessary steps to curb misinformation, what are your thoughts?
Share your views in the comment section below.