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YouTube to block all anti-vaccine content as it cracks down on misinformation

YouTube says it will block all anti-vaccine content, moving beyond its ban on what it calls misinformation about COVID-19 jabs to also include content about other approved vaccines.

Examples of content that won’t be allowed on YouTube include claims that the flu vaccine causes infertility and that the MMR shot – which protects against measles, mumps, and rubella – can cause autism, according to YouTube’s policies.

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

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

Mr Kennedy said in a statement: “There is no instance in history when censorship and secrecy has advanced either democracy or public health.”

YouTube’s new rules will prohibit misinformation about any vaccine that has been approved by health authorities such as the World Health Organization and are currently being administered.

Claims about vaccines that are being tested will still be allowed.

The video platform said personal stories about reactions to the vaccine will also be permitted, as long as they do not come from an account that has a history of promoting vaccine misinformation.

The moves come as YouTube and other tech giants like Facebook and Twitter have been criticised 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 as the company said the channels had breached its COVID-19 misinformation policy.

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