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YouTube cracks down on abortion misinformation

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Today on Twitter, YouTube announced that it would be removing all content that includes instructions for unsafe abortion methods or false claims about the safety of abortions.

The claims will be evaluated by comparing them with the company’s existing misinformation policy, which prohibits the use of misleading or misattributed content, the promotion of “dangerous remedies, cures, or substances” or the use of content that contradicts expert consensus on safe medical practices in certain circumstances.

The company said in a tweet that it is relying on guidance published by health authorities in order to apply its policies on health/medical topics. As we continue to learn about real-world events, we constantly review our policies and products to ensure they are aligned with our commitment to connecting people with authoritative content on health topics.”

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Additionally, the platform will begin to display information panels under certain videos or search results related to abortion in an effort to provide users with access to authoritative sources of information. Panels such as these, which it has also implemented for topics like COVID-19, allow local and global health authorities to provide context and information about specific topics.

As recently as April 2022, YouTube has come under fire for how it handles the content related to abortion, especially when a nearly 40-minute video made by major creators the LaBrant Family was framed as an investigative documentary comparing abortion to the horrors of the Holocaust. This video, which was produced in collaboration with the anti-abortion group Live Action, and which was accompanied by interviews with only pro-life doctors and women, has been criticized for giving a one-sided picture of the issue to the family’s more than 13.1 million subscribers.

In spite of YouTube’s decision to demonetize the video, it can still be seen on the platform, and with 4.3 million views, it is the platform’s 15th most-watched video regarding abortion on the platform, according to a YouTube search conducted today. Ascribed to the National Library of Medicine, an information panel underneath the image reads as follows, “An abortion is a procedure that ends a pregnancy. It entails the removal of the embryo or fetus, as well as the placenta, from the uterus. The procedure must be performed by a qualified healthcare professional.”

According to Fortune magazine, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki remained firm in her belief that “women should be able to make their own decisions regarding abortion when they become mothers… reproductive rights are human rights.” However, when it comes to YouTube and “running a company that really focuses on free speech, we want to ensure that we’re enabling a broad range of opinions, that everyone has a right to express their point of view provided they follow our community guidelines.”

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