The American Autism Association estimates that autism now impacts out of every 59 children in the United States. And now, a change in policy at YouTube will help the tens of thousands of adults and children alike dealing with the condition to better source accurate and useful information.
Disability Scoop’s Shaun Heasley has reported that “YouTube is cracking down on vaccine misinformation, saying that it will remove videos suggesting that vaccines cause autism, among other falsehoods.”
The Google-owned video-sharing platform made the announcement late last week, saying it was part of a new policy designed to update and expand the channel’s policies concerning “harmful” vaccine content.
“YouTube already barred content containing inaccurate information about COVID-19 vaccines, and the company said 130,000 videos have been removed since last year for violating that policy,” Heasley reported. “But inaccurate ideas about other types of vaccines had been allowed to proliferate on the platform.”
With YouTube’s expansion on previous policies related to COVID-19 vaccine misinformation, this should no longer be the case.
“We’ve steadily seen false claims about the coronavirus vaccines spill over into misinformation about vaccines in general, and we’re now at a point where it’s more important than ever to expand the work we started with COVID-19 to other vaccines,” YouTube spokespeople said in a post announcing the policy change.
“Content that falsely alleges that approved vaccines are dangerous and cause chronic health effects; claims that vaccines do not reduce transmission or contraction of disease; or contains misinformation on the substances contained in vaccines will be removed,” YouTube said. “This would include content that falsely says that approved vaccines cause autism, cancer or infertility, or that substances in vaccines can track those who receive them.”
In addition to covering COVID-19 vaccines, the new policy applies to content with misinformation on a number of commonly maligned vaccines, including those for measles and hepatitis B. The policy will also apply to comments made about vaccines, in general.
“YouTube indicated that it will still allow content talking about vaccine policies, trials as well as historical successes and failures,” Heasley reported. “Personal testimonies are also permitted as long as they don’t violate the site’s guidelines or come as part of a channel with a pattern of pushing vaccine hesitancy.”
YouTube’s new policies will take effect immediately. It’s the second time in 2021 that a major social media giant has stepped in to fight vaccine misinformation. Earlier this year, Facebook and Instagram also vowed to “take down postings with debunked claims about the coronavirus and vaccines including those suggesting that ‘vaccines are toxic, dangerous or cause autism.’” According to Facebook, that ban is set to stay in place for the “duration” of the current pandemic.