In a move that will draw praises and flak from different sections of the society, YouTube has announced its new policy to manage "harmful vaccine content" on its platform. The policy that was announced via a blog post, comes into effect immediately but might take time to be fully enforced, the company said.
As cases of COVID-19 rose across the globe last year, the company worked with experts to tackle misinformation pertaining to its medical management. As COVID-19 vaccines were approved and manufactured at record speeds, the platform also had a rise in misinformative content and has removed 130,000 videos that violated its policy so far, the company claims in the blog post.
Over time, the company has noticed that the misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines has now spilled over to vaccines in general with allegations of "chronic health effects" or their inability to "reduce transmission or contraction of the disease." This has prompted YouTube to extend its COVID-19 vaccine policy to other vaccines as well, the company said.
In line with the new policy, content that claims that "vaccines cause autism, cancer, or infertility" or aid in "tracking recipients" will be removed. However, discussions regarding vaccine failures in the past, new vaccine trials, and vaccination policies will be allowed on the platform. Personal testimonials about vaccines will also be allowed as long as they do not promote vaccination hesitancy. These policies apply to all vaccines that are currently approved and confirmed to be safe and effective by local health authorities and the World Health Organization, the company clarified in the blog post.
YouTube said that its policy is aimed at raising up "authoritative health information" on its platform and it wants to connect people with "credible, quality health content and sources." YouTube expects its systems to ramp due to full enforcement in due time, however, accounts of high-profile 'anti-vaxxers' were already removed, CNBC reported.
Last year, popular video-sharing websites struggled to remove a conspiracy video about the pandemic. It remains to be seen how effective YouTube's implementation will be. Users can also switch to a more lenient platform to share such content, Slate said in a report, earlier this year.