YouTube is now blocking several video channels associated with high-profile anti-vaccine activists like Joseph Mercola and Robert F. Kennedy, and banning any videos that claim "commonly used vaccines approved by health authorities are ineffective or dangerous," The Washington Post reported Wednesday.
The video platform had previously blocked misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccines, but not videos that made erroneous or misleading claims about vaccines like those for measles or chickenpox, per the Post.
YouTube Vice President of Global Trust and Safety Matt Halprin said the company did not act sooner because of its myopic focus on COVID-19 vaccines. Its ban was expanded when YouTube realized misinformation regarding other vaccines was contributing to that regarding the COVID vaccine. "Developing robust policies takes time," said Halprin.
The policy adjustment is a shift for the social media giant, which has "long resisted policing content too heavily," writes the Post. But misinformation researchers have, for years, pointed to anti-vax content on YouTube as a cause of skepticism in both the U.S. and worldwide.
To that end, the company will still allow people to discuss their own experience with vaccines, or foster scientific discussions about vaccines' "historical failures or successes," notes the Post. What won't be allowed are "claims that vaccines are dangerous or cause a lot of health effects, that vaccines cause autism, cancer, infertility or contain microchips," said Halprin.
Facebook banned misinformation on all vaccines seven months ago, though the pages of both Mercola and Kennedy remain active, as do their Twitter accounts. Read more at The Washington Post.