The Android app store, Google Play, has introduced sweeping new rules that ban apps containing what the tech giant deems to be “misleading health claims that contradict existing medical consensus, or can cause harm to users.”
The new rules are part of a Google Play “health misinformation” policy that came into force on August 31. Some of the examples of in-app content that’s banned under this new policy include “misleading claims about vaccines, such as that vaccines can alter one’s DNA,” “advocacy of harmful, unapproved treatments,” and “advocacy of other harmful health practices, such as conversion therapy.”
Google’s new policy comes at a time when the medical consensus has changed multiple times over the last few years. In 2020 Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), said that Pfizer’s reported 90% COVID-19 vaccine efficacy rate was “extraordinary.” In 2021, Fauci said the vaccine will “protect you against the surging of the delta variant.” But this year, former White House COVID response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx admitted that she “knew” COVID vaccines would not prevent infection.
Related: ? A deep-dive on private, open-source Android app store alternatives
Despite this constant flip flopping, Big Tech platforms have still heavily censored users that dare to contradict whatever the current medical consensus is. Facebook banned users for suggesting that COVID-19 vaccines are ineffective and YouTube banned anything that goes against the World Health Organization (WHO). Even after the consensus changed and some of the censorship rules were quietly dropped, most of the censored posts and channels weren’t reinstated.
The new health misinformation rules add to Google Play’s extensive set of existing misinformation rules which prohibit apps containing “election misinformation” and “misleading” content. Google Play has already removed thousands of apps under these existing rules.