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YouTube to Remove Videos Containing ‘False Claims,’ Unsafe Instructions Regarding Abortion

'We prioritize connecting people to content from authoritative sources on health topics,' the video platform said


YouTube will begin removing videos that contain misinformation or unsafe instructions for abortion. 

The video platform will also add an information graphic under videos about abortion above abortion search results that notes contexts and provides information from local and global health authorities.

“We prioritize connecting people to content from authoritative sources on health topics, and we continuously review our policies & products as real world events unfold,” YouTube said in a statement released on Twitter.

The company included an example image of the information panel that cited the National Institute of Health’s National Library of Medicine. 

“An abortion is a procedure to end a pregnancy. It uses medicine or surgery to remove the embryo or fetus and placenta from the uterus. The procedure is done by a licensed healthcare professional,” the panel read, along with the disclosure that it was for “information purposes only.”

The announcement comes almost a month after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that grants federal protections for abortions.

YouTube has made previous efforts to prevent content it deems misinformation from existing on its site.

The platform banned COVID-19 misinformation following the onset of the pandemic. By August 2021, it had taken down more than a million videos with dangerous COVID-19 misinformation. The following month, the platform banned content with vaccine misinformation,” reports Engadget.

Under its current misinformation policy, YouTube prohibits “certain types of misleading or deceptive content with serious risk of egregious harm” including “misinformation that can cause real-world harm, like promoting harmful remedies or treatments” or “content interfering with democratic processes.”

“If your content violates this policy, we’ll remove the content and send you an email to let you know,” the policy states. “If this is your first time violating our Community Guidelines, you’ll get a warning with no penalty to your channel. If it’s not, we’ll issue a strike against your channel. If you get 3 strikes, your channel will be terminated.”

Google, which owns YouTube, announced on July 1 that it would delete the location history for anyone going to an abortion clinic or other medical centers because of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Protecting our users’ privacy and securing their data is core to Google’s work,” wrote Senior Vice President of Google Maps Jen Fitzpatrick in a blog post.

“Some of the places people visit — including medical facilities like counseling centers, domestic violence shelters, abortion clinics, fertility centers, addiction treatment facilities, weight loss clinics, cosmetic surgery clinics, and others — can be particularly personal. Today, we’re announcing that if our systems identify that someone has visited one of these places, we will delete these entries from Location History soon after they visit.”

Examples of content prohibited under YouTube’s new policy include sharing toxic herbal recipes that are allegedly alternatives to chemical or surgical abortions and instructions for an at-home abortion.

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