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YouTube bans videos that “might” encourage people to ignore stay at home advice

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During the coronavirus pandemic, YouTube has greatly restricted what its users are allowed to say about the virus.

And now, in yet another coronavirus-related policy change, YouTube’s Chief Product Officer Neal Mohan has announced that content that “might” encourage viewers to go against stay at home advice is banned.

Mohan made the announcement during an interview with Protocol’s editor at large David Pierce where he discussed YouTube’s updated enforcement of its medical misinformation policy which bans “misinformation that might promote a harmful cure” or “prevents people from seeking timely medical care.”

Mohan said that as part of this updated enforcement, one example of content that would be banned is:

“Commentary that might encourage people to flout stay at home orders or stay at home advice that they might be getting from their national health authority.”

Mohan justified the ban by stating that he views such commentary as: “A false narrative underneath our medical misinformation policy.”

Mohan didn’t say how YouTube will define when commentary “might” encourage people to go against stay at home advice which leaves it wide open to interpretation and opens up the possibility that these enforcement measures could be used used to target content that simply questions stay at home advice.

The announcement follows Twitter introducing an equally vague policy last week that bans unverified coronavirus claims that “could” lead to social unrest.

It also comes after YouTube has introduced several other measures to restrict the questioning of mainstream advice on the coronavirus.

Earlier today, it introduced fact checker panels to search results which direct users to health authorities and online encyclopedias.

And during this same interview, Mohan discussed an “Intelligence Desk” tool which YouTube uses to target content that might be classed as a conspiracy theory or misinformation in the future.

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