YouTube’s vaccine misinformation ban lacks true impact



Dani Heba, Sports Editor

YouTube announced on Sept. 29 that the platform would be cracking down on vaccine misinformation by removing anti-vaccine accounts and videos from its platform.

Taken at face value, the ban seems like a wonderful initiative, one that would tackle misinformation and its profound effects on society, especially in the past year. Despite the good intentions, it is far too late for the banto make any impact.

“Today’s policy update is an important step to address vaccine and health misinformation on our platform, and we’ll continue to invest across the board in the policies and products that bring high quality information to our viewers and the entire YouTube community,” YouTube’s team wrote in a blog post.

The ban would remove information that contradicts what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials, Food and Drug Administration officials and doctors across the country have been telling people — that vaccines are safe and effective.

YouTube has already banned more than 1 million videos spreading COVID-19 misinformation since Feb. 2020, according to a blog post.

With the amount of COVID-19 misinformation already viewable online, it is not a stretch to say that banning such content will be of little use.

When people receive misinformation from a trusted person, it will stick because word of mouth is an effective way of convincing people..

This is the most probable reason why COVID-19 vaccine rates are thriving in some parts of the country, such as the Northeast, but lagging in regions, such as the South.

Those people will still have access to the same misinformation, regardless of a ban. Others, like trusted locals and television anchors, still have large platforms offline where false information can be spread.

Additionally, YouTube’s ban could set a worrisome precedent — what else could social media giants, whose platforms provide discussion forums, censor in today’s society?

Social media giants like Facebook, Inc. have already banned political ads and alleged misinformation. One can’t help but wonder what might be next.

In an age where social media giants have enormous leverage on communication, it is essential to stay skeptical of their intentions and to not allow such companies to control information too tightly.

Otherwise, if the wrong people get their hands on a company, censorship could wreak havoc on free speech.