YouTube to remove videos promoting cancer misinformation

New Delhi, Aug 15 : Google-owned YouTube on Tuesday said it will remove content that promotes “cancer treatments proven to be harmful or ineffective” or which “discourages viewers from seeking professional medical treatment”.

The company said that moving forward, it will streamline dozens of its existing medical misinformation guidelines to fall under three categories – Prevention, Treatment, and Denial. 

“These policies will apply to specific health conditions, treatments, and substances where content contradicts local health authorities or the World Health Organization (WHO),” said Dr Garth Graham, Director and Global Head of Healthcare and Public Health Partnerships.

The platform will remove content that contradicts health authority guidance on the prevention and transmission of specific health conditions, and on the safety and efficacy of approved vaccines. 

This will encompasses content that promotes a harmful substance for disease prevention and content that encourages unproven remedies in place of seeking medical attention for specific conditions, like promoting caesium chloride as a treatment for cancer.

“We will remove content that disputes the existence of specific health conditions. This covers content that denies people have died from COVID-19,” said Matt Halprin, VP and Global Head of Trust and Safety.

Starting from Tuesday and ramping up in the coming weeks, YouTube will begin removing content that promotes cancer treatments proven to be harmful or ineffective, or content that discourages viewers from seeking professional medical treatment. 

This includes content that promotes unproven treatments in place of approved care or as a guaranteed cure, and treatments that have been specifically deemed harmful by health authorities. 

For instance, a video that claims “garlic cures cancer,” or “take vitamin C instead of radiation therapy” would be removed, said YouTube.

The company is also publishing a playlist of engaging, informative cancer-related videos from a range of authoritative sources.

“We are collaborating with Mayo Clinic on new video content to share information on a variety of cancer conditions,” said YouTube.