YouTube demonetizes anti-vaccination channels
After tackling child exploitation and conspiracy theorists, pseudoscience is next up on the chopping blockBy Eric Hamilton 32 comments
In context: YouTube continues to fight back against inappropriate, dangerous, or otherwise false content that violates its terms of service. Most recently, channels promoting anti-vaccination, alternative and holistic medicine, or other forms of pseudoscience have been demonetized and prevented from running ads. This news follows the recent controversy of child exploitation on the platform.
YouTube stated on Friday that it would prevent channels promoting anti-vaccination content from running ads, saying that such content falls strictly under its policy of prohibiting videos with "dangerous and harmful" content to be monetized.
Recently, BuzzFeed News made some inquires regarding algorithmic based recommendations on YouTube, where YouTube's algorithm was returning anti-vaccination videos after watching pro-vaccination content. More importantly, many of the anti-vaccination videos were being monetized with ads. Afterwards, many advertisers pulled their ads following BuzzFeed's investigation.
We have strict policies that govern what videos we allow ads to appear on, and videos that promote anti-vaccination content are a violation of those policies. We enforce these policies vigorously, and if we find a video that violates them, we immediately take action and remove ads," a YouTube spokesperson said in an email statement to BuzzFeed News.
Seven different advertisers said they were not aware their ads were being served alongside anti-vaccination content that was found on channels such as VAXXED TV, LarryCook333, and iHealthTube, all of which have since been demonized by YouTube. Some companies, like Vitacost, have vowed to stop purchasing programmatic media from YouTube altogether, after their ads were run alongside videos of child exploitation. YouTube was also recently blamed for the rise of the Flat Earth movement.
This comes in the wake of YouTube removing millions of videos and channels last year for spam, scams, extreme content, or conspiracy theories.
The most notable was the removal of Alex Jones' channel, the infamous InfoWars host and right-wing conspiracy theorist. Recently, lawmakers have been putting pressure on tech companies like Facebook and Google to stop the spread and perpetuation of dangerous misinformation, with Rep. Adam Schiff, a Democrat from California, writing an open letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai.
YouTube has previously stated that it is working on implementing algorithmic changes to its Up Next category to combat misinformation and conspiracy theory related content. Of the changes, YouTube said they "will be gradual and will get more and more accurate over time."