Last week, YouTube added a new feature to their video site which is known as the “YouTube Bans All Anti Vaccine misinformation” badge. This enables users who post “anti-vaccine” or “misinform” videos to have their pages removed permanently from the site. The anti-vaccine movement has been largely blamed for many tragic childhood deaths from vaccines like the HPV vaccine and smallpox. Many parents feel that they should not expose their children to such dangerous material and with the help of this new feature YouTube has made it much harder to spread such lies.
The fact of the matter is that most parents simply do not know what is accurate and what is not. They may be hearing a lot of conflicting information and are confused by all of it. There are some parents who completely deny that vaccines have any kind of dangers while other parents do not believe them. If you ask someone who is antivaccine, they will tell you that no one knows anything about the risks until it is too late. This is absolutely true and anyone who tells you differently is either being paid or has bad information. No parent should be trusted with the lives of their children; there is no reason why they should be allowed to use YouTube to transmit misinformation to innocent children.
So, how does YouTube decide which entries on their site are appropriate? They only remove videos that are considered to be spam. According to this policy, any commercial or promotional video involving products or services can be removed at any time. Now some might say that this is not true, especially if the commercial is very clear and there is no confusion about the product being promoted. This is where the problem arises.
Websites such as YouTube are run for free; they are not-for-profit organizations. Therefore, the owners and operators of the websites have every right to remove videos that they determine to be spam. If you try to argue that the video was designed to educate, promote a product or service, then you will likely be shut down or banned from using the site. This is censorship at its best; parents who do not want their kids to receive information that could harm them should find another means of educating themselves.
However, the fact remains that YouTube is a commercial site and they have to abide by their own policies. In addition to this, they have millions of users; it is unlikely that they will choose to make an exception for information that could be deemed offensive or in conflict with their guidelines. Any and all video content that falls outside of these parameters will be removed. This includes videos that advise the avoidance of vaccinations. It also includes any information which encourages the rejection of vaccinations.
These types of videos will still be available to users; you will just need a way to access them. There are a number of websites that are designed to cater to the needs of those who wish to watch anti-vaccine videos. They will generally contain only the anti-vaccine clips and will provide explanations as to why they are relevant to the subject at hand. Of course, you will need to make sure that you can watch this material without being penalized.
This type of internet censorship seems to be unprecedented in today’s internet climate. If this trend continues it is likely that the voices of those opposed to vaccinations will be increasingly restricted or eliminated entirely. It is doubtful that this would be good for America; we are a country that has an abiding commitment to free speech. Those who wish to express their opposition to vaccination must do so in a lawful and legitimate manner. Otherwise, they will find themselves prosecuted and there will be no free speech on the Internet.
It is important to remember that the World Wide Web is not necessarily a place where one has to express hatred towards others. There are many different opinions to take on a variety of topics. You will find that there are many YouTube videos that educate, entertain and inform the general public. Information on matters such as autism, vaccines, and other health-related issues is readily available. If it was not for YouTube there would not be so much information on so many different subjects.