YouTube has removed the accounts of anti-vaccine activists Robert F. Kennedy Jr., Joseph Mercola and others as part of a crackdown on misinformation.
Kennedy had already been booted off Instagram last February for continually spreading false information about Covid-19 vaccines. Before the pandemic, he had already been a prominent skeptic of vaccines in general.
In a blog post, the company said it would remove content that falsely alleges that approved vaccines are dangerous and cause chronic health effects. Also banned will be claims that vaccines do not reduce transmission or contraction of disease, or misinformation on the substances contained in vaccines. False claims that vaccines cause autism, cancer or infertility, or that substances in them can track those who receive them will also no longer fly.
“Crafting policy around medical misinformation comes charged with inherent challenges and tradeoffs,” the blog post said. “Scientific understanding evolves as new research emerges, and firsthand, personal experience regularly plays a powerful role in online discourse. Vaccines in particular have been a source of fierce debate over the years, despite consistent guidance from health authorities about their effectiveness.”
YouTube said it has already removed over 130,000 videos for violating its Covid vaccine policies. The Google division said it decided to act to prevent misleading Covid material from creating wider skepticism about all vaccines.
“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,” the company wrote.