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YouTube blocks anti-vaccine content

WASHINGTON

YouTube will block all anti-vaccine content, moving beyond its ban on false information about the Covid-19 vaccines to include content that contains misinformation about other approved vaccines, it said during a blog post on Wednesday (Sept 29).

Examples of content that will not be allowed on YouTube include claims that the flu vaccine causes infertility which the MMR shot, which protects against measles, mumps, and rubella, can cause autism, consistent with YouTube’s policies.

The online video company owned by Alphabet is also banning channels associated with several prominent anti-vaccine activists including Robert F. Kennedy Jr and Joseph Mercola, a YouTube spokesman said.

A press email for Mercola’s website said during a statement: “We are united across the globe, we’ll not live in fear, we’ll stand together and restore our freedoms.”

Kennedy said during a statement: “There is not an instance in history when censorship and secrecy have advanced either democracy or public health.”

The moves come as YouTube and other tech giants like Facebook and Twitter are criticized for not doing enough to stop the spread of false health information on their sites.

But even as YouTube takes a tougher stance on misinformation, it faces a backlash around the world. On Tuesday, Russian state-backed broadcaster RT’s German-language channels were deleted from YouTube, because the company said the channels had breached its Covid-19 misinformation policy.

Russia on Wednesday called the move “unprecedented information aggression,” and threatened to block YouTube.

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