YouTube is taking steps to remove content from prominent COVID-19 vaccine skeptics, including Joseph Mercola and Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
As part of a set of new policies first reported by the Washington Post, YouTube will ban any videos claiming that commonly used vaccines approved by health officials are ineffective or dangerous.
YouTube has enacted similar measures against accounts sharing misinformation about COVID-19.
Matt Halprin, YouTube’s vice president of global trust and safety, told the Post, “Developing robust policies takes time. We wanted to launch a policy that is comprehensive, enforceable with consistency and adequately addresses the challenge.”
YouTube and other social media platforms have been blamed for the spread of anti-vaccine sentiments, but until now, the company had resisted calls to enact harsh restrictions.
The penalties for accounts sharing general COVID-19 misinformation were quicker to come, however. Sen. Rand Paul’s YouTube account was suspended last month after he posted a video questioning the effectiveness of masks in stopping the spread of COVID-19. That was the second coronavirus video of the senator’s that YouTube removed in keeping with its guidelines. The Google-owned company said at the time, “YouTube doesn’t allow content about COVID-19 that poses a serious risk of egregious harm. YouTube doesn’t allow content that spreads medical misinformation that contradicts local health authorities’ or the World Health Organization’s (WHO) medical information about COVID-19.”
Similarly, One America News Network had its YouTube account suspended in November 2020 for spreading “harmful” misinformation about the virus.