Where Anti-Vaccine Propaganda Went When YouTube Banned It
Search the term “vaccine” on YouTube, and the top results will be news stories about the COVID-19 vaccines from sources like CBS, Good Morning America, and CNN. Search that same term on Rumble, a video-streaming platform that has become popular with conservatives as an alternative to YouTube, and it serves up videos with titles like, “Vaccine Halted In Europe After Deaths & DC Arrests” and “Why You MUST Refuse The Vaccine.”
As coronavirus vaccines become more widely available to the general public, misinformation meant to discourage people from getting a shot is rising in tandem. Major platforms have been trying to crack down on medical myths and unfounded anti-vax scares: YouTube announced last week that it had deleted more than 30,000 videos containing false or misleading claims about the vaccines, while Facebook recently changed its policies so that moderators will remove vaccine misinformation, rather than just downranking it in newsfeeds. (Of course, some of this content still makes it through. “This is the right step for Facebook, but they still need to keep up because anti-vaxxers are moving fast,” said George Washington University public health professor Y. Tony Yang, who noted that some users have found workarounds for the bans like using codewords.) Content creators pushing anti-vaccine propaganda are now fleeing to smaller social media platforms that market themselves as “free speech” alternatives with lax to nonexistent moderation policies. For video, the biggest of these alternative platforms appears to be Rumble.