YouTube announces new policies to curb health misinformation


YouTube, a video-sharing platform, has announced a new framework aimed at combating medical misinformation that contradicts local health authorities or the World Health Organization (WHO) on the platform.

According to a recent blog post by the company, the move is an attempt to tackle medical misinformation on COVID-19, vaccines, reproductive health, harmful substances, and more.

The company announced its plans to simplify its current guidelines into three main categories: prevention, treatment, and denial. 

This means that YouTube will take down content that goes against established advice from health authorities on subjects like COVID-19, reproductive health, cancer, and dangerous substances, among other topics.

The platform has faced criticisms in recent years over how its algorithm direct viewers to misleading contents. In 2021, YouTube announced that it removed more than 1 million videos related to “dangerous coronavirus information” since the beginning of the outbreak in the U.S.

“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,” the company stated.

It also said it will remove content that contradicts guidance from health authorities on the prevention and transmission of certain conditions, including vaccines as well as content that contradicts guidance on treatments, including videos that tout unproven remedies in place of seeking care, and content that denies the existence of specific conditions, including COVID-19.

The platform said its new policies “will apply to specific health conditions, treatments, and substances where content contradicts local health authorities or the World Health Organization (WHO).”

“To determine if a condition, treatment or substance is in scope of our medical misinformation policies, we’ll evaluate whether it’s associated with a high public health risk, publicly available guidance from health authorities around the world, and whether it’s generally prone to misinformation,” it read. 

The post also highlighted new policies targeting cancer treatment misinformation. The company said it will begin to remove “content 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.”

Citing an instance, the platform said a video that claims ‘garlic cures cancer,’ or ‘take vitamin C instead of radiation therapy’ would be removed from the platform.

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Nurudeen Akewushola is a fact-checker with FactCheckHub. He has authored several fact checks which have contributed to the fight against information disorder. You can reach him via [email protected] and @NurudeenAkewus1 via Twitter.


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