YouTube said Thursday it will take down misinformation related to abortion on its platform worldwide, including content that “provides instructions” for unsafe abortion procedures without scientific support as well as false claims such as that the procedure causes infertility, as social media companies battle the spread of misinformation in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
YouTube prioritizes “connecting people to content from authoritative sources on health topics,” and will “continuously review our policies & products as real world events unfold,” the company said in a thread on Twitter.
YouTube also plans to attach an information panel to abortion-related content on the platform to direct viewers to credible sources.
The policy will come into effect Thursday, and marks an addition to the company’s existing misinformation policies on Covid-19, vaccine and elections.
Experts have sounded alarms about a spike in misinformation related to abortion in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling in June. Videos on social media platforms sharing potentially dangerous ways to induce abortions with herbs have since proliferated on TikTok, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. TikTok has said it is working to remove videos about abortion that violate its medical misinformation policy, according to CNN. YouTube, meanwhile, has come under fire from fact-checking organizations in recent years for failing to take enough action to combat the spread of misinformation on its platform. Google, YouTube’s parent company, pledged earlier this month to automatically delete the location data of users who visit abortion clinics after some abortion rights advocates raised concerns the data could be used to prosecute those who seek to access abortions in states where the procedure is illegal. Law enforcement has frequently turned to Google for data in recent years, executing more than 40,000 U.S. search warrants and subpoenas for user information in the first half of 2020, according to Google.
Abortion bans heighten scrutiny on Google and its user data (Washington Post)
By Madeline Halpert, Forbes Staff