YouTube will block all kinds of anti-vaccine content, going beyond its ban on misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccines to incorporate content that carries false information about other authorised vaccines, said in a blog post on Wednesday.
Claims of flu vaccine causing infertility and that the MMR shot, which shields against measles, mumps, and rubella, can lead to autism are some of the examples of content that won’t be displayed according to YouTube’s policies. The online video sharing platform owned by Alphabet Inc is also blocking YouTube channels associated with many leading anti-vaccine advocates such as Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Joseph Mercola, a YouTube spokesperson said.
A press email for Mercola’s website said in a statement: “We are united across the world, we will not live in fear, we will stand together and restore our freedoms.” Kennedy said in a statement: “There is no instance in history when censorship and secrecy has advanced either democracy or public health.” The move arrives as YouTube, and other social media giants like Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc. faced backlash over their inability to limit the spread of false health information on their platforms.
However, as YouTube imposes a stricter attitude towards misinformation, it faces criticism across the world.
On Tuesday, Russian state-backed broadcaster RT’s German-based channels were banned from YouTube, as the platform stated that the channels violated its COVID-19 misinformation policy. On Wednesday, Russia termed the move “unprecedented information aggression,” and cautioned to ban YouTube.