YouTube bans videos spreading COVID-19 vaccine misinformation

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New Delhi (NVI): The online video-sharing platform, YouTube has announced that it would remove videos from its site which contain misleading claims about coronavirus vaccines as part of an effort to tackle COVID-19 misinformation.

“A COVID-19 vaccine may be imminent, therefore we’re ensuring we have the right policies in place to be able to remove misinformation related to coronavirus vaccines from the platform,” YouTube said in a statement.

The video platform also informed that it would ban any content with claims about COVID-19 vaccines which contradicts expert consensus from local health authorities or the World Health Organization (WHO).

“This would include removing claims that the vaccine will kill people or cause infertility, or that microchips will be implanted in people who receive the vaccine,” the statement said.

YouTube noted that it already removes content that disputes the existence or transmission of COVID-19, promotes medically unsubstantiated methods of treatment, discourages people from seeking medical care or explicitly disputes health authorities’ guidance on self-isolation or social distancing.

However, the conspiracy theories and misinformation about the new COVID-19 vaccines have proliferated on social media during the pandemic on YouTube and through viral videos shared across multiple platforms, the World Economic Forum reported.

“To date, we have removed over 2,00,000 videos related to dangerous or misleading COVID-19 information since early February,” a YouTube spokesperson said in a statement.

Andy Pattison, manager of digital solutions at the World Health Organization said that the WHO meets weekly with the policy team at YouTube to discuss content trends and potentially problematic videos.

Pattison said the WHO was encouraged by YouTube’s announcement on ban of coronavirus vaccine misinformation.

Furthermore, the company stated it was limiting the spread of COVID-19 related misinformation on the site, including certain borderline videos about COVID-19 vaccines. It added that it would be announcing more steps in the coming weeks to emphasize authoritative information about COVID-19 vaccines on the site.

This new policy of YouTube comes after Facebook also expanded its own policy on vaccination content to ban adverts which advocate against COVID-19 vaccines.