The removals date back to February 2020.
The videos “included claims about COVID-19 vaccinations that contradict local health authorities or the World Health Organization,” a spokeswoman said via email.
Approximately 30,000 videos have been removed since October 2020 because they “included claims about COVID-19 vaccinations that contradict local and global health authorities,” she added.
Examples of content that will get videos removed include claims that COVID-19 vaccines will kill people or cause infertility and claims that microchips will be implanted in people who receive a vaccine.
There are exceptions for content with context deemed sufficient, such as educational or artistic context.
The CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, which causes the disease COVID-19, is believed to have started spreading in late 2019.
YouTube has increasingly cracked down on users that are allegedly purveying misinformation on a range of topics, including COVID-19.
YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki said in April 2020 during an appearance on CNN that the platform would be “removing information that is problematic,” including “anything that is medically unsubstantiated.”
“So people saying ‘take vitamin C; take turmeric, we’ll cure you’, those are the examples of things that would be a violation of our policy. Anything that would go against World Health Organization recommendations would be a violation of our policy,” she explained.
The moderation policies were expanded to include vaccines in October 2020.
“A COVID-19 vaccine may be imminent, therefore we’re ensuring we have the right policies in place to be able to remove misinformation related to a COVID-19 vaccine from the platform,” YouTube said in a statement at the time. Videos would be removed if they “contradict expert consensus from local health authorities or the World Health Organization.”
In announcing the expansion, YouTube said it had removed over 200,000 videos with COVID-19 misinformation between February and October last year.
Supporters of the removals say they prevent misinformation about COVID-19 from spreading. Critics note the World Health Organization and other authorities have changed recommendations and declarations about COVID-19 over time, such as initially urging people not to wear masks before advising or requiring them to in many environments.
Examples of videos taken down include a press conference held by doctors speaking in support of the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine in treating and preventing COVID-19, an unlisted One America News video about the drug, and testimony delivered by Ohio Stands Up! attorney Thomas Renz to the Ohio legislature in support of a bill that would institute oversight of pandemic-related orders given by Gov. Mike DeWine.
“YouTube, which is owned by Google, censored Mr. Renz’s testimony, by removing it from their platform and attempting to justify their actions by writing, ‘Our team has reviewed your content, and, unfortunately, we think it violates our medical misinformation policy,’” Ohio Stands Up! said in a statement about the removal.