This morning YouTube announced that it will start mass removals of videos with medical misinformation. YouTube says these removals will start today and continue over the next few weeks.
“In the years since we began our efforts to make YouTube a destination for high-quality health content, we’ve learned critical lessons about developing Community Guidelines in line with local and global health authority guidance on topics that pose serious real-world risks, such as misinformation on COVID-19, vaccines, reproductive health, harmful substances, and more. We’re taking what we’ve learned so far about the most effective ways to tackle medical misinformation to simplify our approach for creators, viewers, and partners.”
YouTube says content that will be removed includes videos that “promotes cancer treatments proven to be harmful or ineffective, or content that discourages viewers from seeking professional medical treatment. This includes content that promotes unproven treatments in place of approved care or as a guaranteed cure, and treatments that have been specifically deemed harmful by health authorities.”
Here is what YouTube says it will do to stop misinformation:
- Prevention misinformation: We will remove content that contradicts health authority guidance on the prevention and transmission of specific health conditions, and on the safety and efficacy of approved vaccines. For example, this encompasses content that promotes a harmful substance for disease prevention.
- Treatment misinformation: We will remove content that contradicts health authority guidance on treatments for specific health conditions, including promoting specific harmful substances or practices. Examples include content that encourages unproven remedies in place of seeking medical attention for specific conditions, like promoting caesium chloride as a treatment for cancer.
- Denial misinformation: We will remove content that disputes the existence of specific health conditions. This covers content that denies people have died from COVID-19.
YouTube says they feel debate and discussion are critical to the advancement of science and medicine. To do this YouTube says they may allow content to stay on YouTube if it is “sufficiently in the public interest to remain on YouTube, even if it otherwise violates our policies – for example, a video of a public hearing or comments made by national political candidates on the campaign trail that disputes health authority guidance, or graphic footage from active warzones or humanitarian crises. We may also make exceptions for personal testimonies or content that discusses the results of a specific medical study. Adding context to a video doesn’t guarantee that it’ll be allowed to remain, and we may also age-gate some content or surface an information panel underneath these videos to provide additional context for viewers.”