YouTube to Remove Abortion Falsehoods, Direct Users to Facts
YOuTube will start removing content that encourages unsafe abortion procedures or falsities about safety. This is in response to advocates’ concerns about misinformation spreading as abortion access decreases in the U.S.
The hugely popular video site, which is part of Alphabet Inc.’s Google, said Thursday that it would follow guidelines from health authorities in implementing the policy, with enforcement “ramping up over the next few weeks.” Examples of content that would be removed under the policy include at-home abortion instructions that deviate from guidelines from health authorities and false claims that abortion often results in infertility or cancer, YouTube said.
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According to medical professionals, there has been an increase in inappropriate abortion-related content via social media since Roe v. Wade (a landmark ruling which provided federal protection of abortion rights for 50 years) was overturned.
“We believe it’s important to connect people to content from authoritative sources regarding health topics, and we continuously review our policies and products as real world events unfold,” a YouTube spokesperson said in a statement.
Melissa Fowler is the National Abortion Federation’s chief program officer. She said that the YouTube policy was an excellent step.
“We should be holding platforms accountable and making sure that people who are searching for information about abortion are not subjected to any type of medical misinformation or misleading content,” she said in an interview. “People should be able to trust that they are being directed to places where they can get accurate information about abortion and their options.”
YouTube announced that YouTube would start to show information about health officials alongside search results and videos regarding abortion. Similar information is available alongside search results for Covid-19 or elections.
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YouTube has increased its rules regarding medical care several times in the years since the pandemic. In 2020, YouTube banned inaccurate information about Covid-19, although critics say the company’s enforcement of the rules has fallen short.
YouTube blocked videos of Covid-19 being used to question the science behind the treatments. YouTube then decided to expand the ban last fall to all vaccines.
Assistance from Mark Bergen.
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