YouTube, Facebook and other social media giants cracked down on coronavirus misinformation at the start of the pandemic, but did not initially address anti-vaccination lies in general. While it is true that these are two somewhat separate phenomena, common sense dictates that the broader anti-vaccination movement is likely to gain new adherents as the political right raises doubts about coronavirus vaccines. .
Already, some Republican officials in places like Florida and Tennessee have broadened their resistance rhetoric to encompass not only coronavirus vaccine mandates, but long-standing school vaccination mandates for childhood illnesses. Most Americans have long supported these school mandates, but the current political conversation has the potential to change that.
YouTube’s decision to ban content spreading false claims about the supposed dangers of vaccination in general follows Facebook’s lead a few months ago. YouTube actually goes a step further by specifically targeting and removing video channels associated with leading anti-vax promoters like Dr Joseph Mercola and Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
Mercola and Kennedy both allege censorship – which is as false and misleading as their anti-vax nonsense. Governments that tell people they can’t say something is censorship. A private company refusing to let its product be used to promote dangerous lies is responsible behavior, and it is high time that it did.