YouTube announced that it will begin cracking down on videos that contain misinformation about abortion.
Starting Thursday, “we will remove content that provides instructions for unsafe abortion methods or promotes false claims about abortion safety under our medical misinformation policies,” YouTube said in a thread on Twitter.
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The expanded YouTube policy comes after the Supreme Court last month overturned Roe v. Wade, eliminating the constitutional right to abortion in the U.S. after nearly 50 years. That has led numerous states to enact laws criminalizing abortion procedures.
“Like all of our policies on health/medical topics, we rely on published guidance from health authorities,” the video platform said. “We prioritize connecting people to content from authoritative sources on health topics, and we continuously review our policies & products as real world events unfold.”
According to YouTube’s existing guidelines, it prohibits content that promotes “harmful substances, treatments or substances” as well as content “contradicting expert consensus on certain safe medical practices.”
YouTube also said Thursday it is launching an information panel that provides users with “context and information” from local and global health authorities that will appear below abortion-related videos and above relevant search results.
An example YouTube provided of an info panel is sourced to the National Institute of Health’s National Library of Medicine and reads: “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 also advises, “For informational purposes only. Consult your local medical authority for advice.”
Earlier this month, gender-justice advocacy group UltraViolet, in collaboration with Physicians for Reproductive Health, organized an open letter signed by more than 70 healthcare providers and 190-plus organizations urging YouTube and social-media platforms halt the spread of abortion-related disinformation.
“Pregnant people have always needed accurate information about sexual and reproductive health and now with the overturning of Roe v. Wade, a disinformation epidemic must be prevented and stemmed immediately,” UltraViolet executive director Shaunna Thomas said in a statement. “YouTube’s decision to start removing abortion-related misinformation and linking to factual information is a critical step in protecting public health and the people who seek answers and solutions to reproductive health options online.”
Last month, Google — YouTube’s parent — said it will automatically delete location entries from users’ accounts shortly after they visit “particularly personal” medical facilities, including abortion clinics.
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