FINALLY: YouTube To Take Down Prominent Anti-Vax Channels

FINALLY: YouTube To Take Down Prominent Anti-Vax Channels

YouTube is taking down several video channels belonging to high-profile antivaxxers, including Joseph Mercola and Bobby Kennedy Jr., who have raised the vaccine skepticism that’s has slowed vaccination rates across the country. Via the Washington Post:

As part of a new set of policies aimed at cutting down on anti-vaccine content on the Google-owned site, YouTube will ban any videos that claim that commonly used vaccines approved by health authorities are ineffective or dangerous. The company previously blocked videos that made those claims about coronavirus vaccines, but not ones for other vaccines like those for measles or chickenpox.

Misinformation researchers have for years said the popularity of anti-vaccine content on YouTube was contributing to growing skepticism of lifesaving vaccines in the United States and around the world. Vaccination rates have slowed and about 56 percent of the U.S. population has had two shots, compared with 71 percent in Canada and 67 percent in the United Kingdom. In July, President Biden said social media companies were partially responsible for spreading misinformation about the vaccines, and need to do more to address the issue.

The change marks a shift for the social media giant, which streams more than 1 billion hours’ worth of content every day. Like its peers Facebook and Twitter, the company has long resisted policing content too heavily, arguing maintaining an open platform is critical to free speech. But as the companies increasingly come under fire from regulators, lawmakers and regular users for contributing to social ills — including vaccine skepticism — YouTube is again changing policies that it has held onto for months.

YouTube was previously focused on misinformation specifically about coronavirus vaccines, said Matt Halprin, YouTube’s vice president of global trust and safety. He said it took time to develop a more comprehensive policy — although Facebook changed their policy months ago.

It was back in 2015 that I started to notice when people said, “I did my research,” they meant YouTube. There is a lot of interesting information on YouTube — but even more crazy, sensational fabrications. Kind of like the old Weekly World News, only with video!

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