YouTube is finally removing vaccine misinformation videos

A medical professional getting ready to issue a Covid-19 vaccine
(Image credit: Shutterstock / Viacheslav Lopatin)

YouTube has announced that harmful content regarding vaccine misinformation will be removed from the video-sharing platform and that the accounts of anti-vaccine influencers will be terminated.

This isn't the first time that YouTube has tightened its policies regarding the spread of misinformation, having previously announced partnerships with various health organizations to create medical videos for its platform, and introducing a ban on videos regarding Covid vaccinations that contradict the WHO (World Health Organization) in October last year.

Preventing the spread

As reported by the BBC, it should be noted that this latest policy extends to all vaccinations and not just those relating to Covid-19, with YouTube clarifying in a blog post that it had seen "spill over into misinformation about vaccines in general", which means long-standing anti-vaccine activists will be removed from the platform.

"We're expanding our medical misinformation policies on YouTube with new guidelines on currently administered vaccines that are approved and confirmed to be safe and effective by local health authorities and the WHO."

Prior to the appearance of Covid-19, a widely debunked study on the MMR vaccination in 1998 caused widespread vaccine hesitancy after it was falsely linked to autism diagnosis in children. Despite the doctor responsible for the fraudulent research paper being struck from the medical register, the impact and publicity surrounding it has been credited for causing a sharp decline in vaccination uptake, resulting in outbreaks of measles around the world.

Matt Halprin, the global head of trust and safety at YouTube specifically gave the MMR vaccine as an example of content that will be targeted, saying: “There is still a lot of challenges around MMR and people arguing whether that causes autism. And as we know, the science is very stable that vaccines do not cause autism."

After YouTube first introduced a ban on Covid-specific vaccine misinformation videos, around 130,000 pieces of content were removed from the platform, with Google (YouTube's parent company) removing a total of one million videos containing misinformation since the pandemic started almost two years ago.

Jess Weatherbed

Jess is a former TechRadar Computing writer, where she covered all aspects of Mac and PC hardware, including PC gaming and peripherals. She has been interviewed as an industry expert for the BBC, and while her educational background was in prosthetics and model-making, her true love is in tech and she has built numerous desktop computers over the last 10 years for gaming and content creation. Jess is now a journalist at The Verge.