In the United States, we’re doing a better job of tracing misinformation about COVID-19 to its source than we are tracking the actual illness. Donald Trump tweets that spread falsehoods come with a disclaimer. QAnon has been pulled up root and branch from Facebook. And now YouTube has banned conspiracy theory videos around a potential COVID-19 vaccine.
The website said it's cracking down on videos that spread the idea that a vaccine to coronavirus is uniquely harmful, deadly, a sterilization scheme, or a vessel to implant microchips in unwitting patients.
“A COVID-19 vaccine may be imminent; therefore, we’re ensuring we have the right policies in place to be able to remove misinformation related to a COVID-19 vaccine,” a representative for YouTube told Variety.
YouTube demonetized channels that promote anti-vax theories last year, hoping to discourage a growing movement of conspiracy theorists who believe that all vaccines are part of an insidious plot by the government, or that materials in vaccines can cause autism in children, both of which have been proven false.
The specific ban on COVID-19 vaccine theories comes after the video-hosting giant already put in place policies against coronavirus information. They claim to have removed over 200,000 videos that either called the virus a hoax or promoted unfounded treatment for the disease.
The move comes after Facebook unleashed a wave of new rules meant to stem the spread of dangerous misinformation on their platform. The social media behemoth ousted QAnon pages, put in place a policy banning Holocaust denial, and stopped accepting ads that discourage people from getting vaccinated.