Jul 21, 2022 - Technology

YouTube to remove certain abortion-related content

Illustration of patterns of hospital plus turned into x’s and one right side up
Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

YouTube will begin removing and labeling certain abortion-related content on the video-sharing platform, the company said Thursday.

Why it matters: As states pass new laws and rhetoric continues to heat up, tech platforms are grappling with how to treat online information about abortion in the wake of the Supreme Court's Dobbs decision overturning Roe v. Wade.

Driving the news: Starting Thursday, YouTube will globally remove content that "promotes or provides instructions" for unsafe or alternative abortion methods not supported by science or approved by medical professionals.

  • YouTube will also remove false claims about abortion such as claims that abortion commonly causes infertility or cancer.

What they're saying: “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.

  • "We will also launch an information panel to provide additional context to viewers on abortion-related videos," the spokesperson said.
  • Such information panels already exist for topics like COVID-19, vaccines, elections and climate change.

Between the lines: This policy appears to appeal to both pro- and anti- choice users without wading too far into either side.

  • Other platforms, like Meta's Instagram, have already been accused of unfairly taking down abortion content per uneven application of prior rules.

What to watch: YouTube's announcement may nudge other platforms to establish clearer policies around abortion.

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