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YouTube vows to remove abortion misinformation

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YouTube said it will remove videos containing falsehoods such as abortions being likely to cause cancer or infertility./AFP
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Jul 22, 2022 - 07:46 AM

SAN FRANCISCO — YouTube on Thursday said it will start removing videos containing false or unsafe claims about abortion in a crackdown on misinformation about the medical procedure.

The move comes as women seek reliable pregnancy-related information online in the wake of the right to abortions being revoked in many areas across the United States.

“We believe it’s important to connect people to content from authoritative sources regarding health topics, and we continuously review our policies and products as real world events unfold,” a YouTube spokesperson said in response to an AFP inquiry.

“Starting today and ramping up over the next few weeks, we will remove content that provides instructions for unsafe abortion methods or promotes false claims about abortion safety under our medical misinformation policies.”

Examples of content YouTube said it will remove from its platform globally include instructions for unsafe at-home abortions and false claims such as there being a high risk of the procedure causing cancer or infertility.

YouTube said it will also start adding information from the National Library of Medicine to abortion-related videos or queries to provide reliable context.

The video streaming site is operated by Alphabet-owned Google, which earlier this month announced it would delete users’ location history when they visit abortion clinics, domestic violence shelters and other places where privacy is sought.

“If our systems identify that someone has visited one of these places, we will delete these entries from Location History soon after they visit,” Jen Fitzpatrick, a senior vice president at Google, wrote in a blog post at the time.

The changes by the tech company follow the US Supreme Court’s reversal of its 1973 decision that had provided for a constitutional right to abortion, freeing a slew of states to ban or severely restrict the procedure and prompting mass protests across the country.

Activists and politicians have been calling on Google and other tech giants to limit the amount of information they collect to avoid it being used for abortion investigations and prosecutions.

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