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It's not just COVID: YouTube is removing videos with lies about all vaccines

By Brett Molina

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YouTube is expanding its push against misinformation on COVID-19 vaccines to all vaccines.

The video platform announced Wednesday it will remove any misinformation related to vaccines, whether it's focused on specific illnesses or false information about vaccines in general.

The change comes as public pressure intensifies on social media companies to root out harmful misinformation contributing to vaccine hesitancy. The United States has reported more than 50,000 COVID-19 deaths in September.

YouTube said any 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 banned.

The platform said its policies would also cover videos that claim vaccines cause autism or can track recipients.

"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 said in a statement.

YouTube will also terminate the channels belonging to Joseph Mercola, Erin Elizabeth and Sherri Tenpenny – all identified by the Center for Countering Digital Hate as among a dozen playing leading roles in spreading online misinformation about COVID vaccines.

"Anti-vaxxers have used social media platforms with impunity for far too long, risking the lives of millions, if not billions, of people around the world," Imran Ahmed, CEO for the Center for Countering Digital Hate, said in a statement to USA TODAY.

YouTube's updated policies are the latest in a series of moves by tech platforms attempting to weed out misinformation on COVID vaccination. Earlier this month, Reddit banned the community NoNewNormal, which had been linked to COVID misinformation.

Meanwhile, Twitter increased crackdowns on COVID misinformation, including applying labels to tweets they deem "misleading." Last month, Twitter suspended the account for U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) for the second time in two months due to a COVID-19 vaccine tweet they labeled "misleading."

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