Misinformation can have harmful effects on everyone, especially when the world is fighting off a pandemic. YouTube has been working to stop the spread of misinformation around COVID-19 and its vaccines, but today the platform has announced a sweeping ban on all anti-vaccine content that spreads misinformation.

Announced on the YouTube Blog this morning, YouTube will expand its medical misinformation policies to go beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. Starting today, the platform will ban all content promoting misinformation about any currently administered vaccines that are “approved and confirmed to be safe and effective” by health authorities.

YouTube’s guidelines have long prohibited certain types of medical misinformation, especially those that are directly harmful to people, but today’s sweeping ban takes a stronger stance against anti-vaccine misinformation specifically. YouTube explains:

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. 

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. This would include content that falsely says that approved vaccines cause autism, cancer or infertility, or that substances in vaccines can track those who receive them. Our policies not only cover specific routine immunizations like for measles or Hepatitis B, but also apply to general statements about vaccines.

There will be some exceptions to these new rules, specifically with content that talks about vaccine policies, new vaccine trials, and historical facts about vaccines. Personal testimonies are also still allowed under the new guidelines as long as the video breaks no other rules and does not “show a pattern of promoting vaccine hesitancy.”

Quickly taking action under this new policy, YouTube confirmed to the Washington Post that it has banned the accounts of some high-profile anti-vaccine activists including Joseph Mercola and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (Children’s Defense Fund). Speaking to the Verge, YouTube also confirmed it had removed the accounts of Erin Elizabeth and Sherri Tenpenny and pointed to the previous removals of Rashid Bhuttar and Ty and Charlene Bollinger.

Matt Halprin, YouTube’s vice president of global trust and safety, said:

We’ll remove claims that vaccines are dangerous or cause a lot of health effects, that vaccines cause autism, cancer, infertility, or contain microchips.

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