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YouTube takes ad money away from anti-vax channels looking to profit, sway parents
The tech giant joins other social media and search giants in blocking the profitability of anti-vaccination efforts that are trying to sway parents.
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Give yourself a break. Hitting the drive-through when you're too tired to cook doesn't make you a bad parent.
YouTube is coming out swinging in the growing movement among tech giants to block the profitability of anti-vaccination efforts trying to sway parents against immunizing their children.
Just as measles outbreaks are occurring across the country, the video-sharing site issued a statement to USA TODAY calling anti-vaccination videos harmful and dangerous.
Recently, a number of ads for companies selling health-related items slipped through YouTube's system and were allowed to play during videos on channels that promote anti-vax agendas, according to BuzzFeed News .
One way channels make money on YouTube is by showing ads. Most of the time, advertisers pay for their ads to play with certain types of videos and don't approve where they run on a channel-by-channel basis. But certain types of videos, including spreading fear of childhood immunizations, are not supposed to be able to show ads (and thus make money).
"We have strict policies that govern what videos we allow ads to appear on, and videos that promote anti-vaccination content have been and remain a violation of our longstanding harmful or dangerous advertising policy . We enforce these policies vigorously, and if we find a video that violates them we immediately take action and remove ads," YouTube said in a statement.
One of the videos that was allowed to show ads was "Mom Researches Vaccines, Discovers Vaccination Horrors and Goes Vaccine Free," Buzzfeed reported.
Ads were removed, but not before angering advertisers who were unaware that their ads ran alongside anti-vaccination videos. One included a health tech company called Nomad Health that told BuzzFeed it would "take action to prevent it from happening in the future."
Some parents opt not to vaccinate because of the discredited belief that vaccines are linked to autism. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that there is no such link and that there are no ingredients in vaccines that could cause autism.
Facebook takes on anti-vax 'misinformation'
Amid the conversation, Facebook said this month that it was considering making anti-vaccination content less visible on its platform.
The social site said it has "taken steps to reduce the distribution of health-related misinformation on Facebook, but we know we have more to do."
Facebook said it is working with experts "on additional changes that we'll be announcing soon," Andy Stone, a spokesman for Facebook, said in a statement.
"You know your children are growing up when they stop asking you where they came from and refuse to tell you where they’re going." - P. J. O’Rourke
YouTube, which is owned by Google, has every reason to remain vigilant in policing its content. Big-name companies, including AT&T; Disney; Nestle; and Epic Games, the publisher of phenomenon video game Fortnite, have pulled advertisements over concerns their ads were running on videos in which pedophiles were making objectifying comments about young children, primarily girls.
AT&T said in a statement it sent to USA TODAY on Monday that it was removing its advertising from YouTube until Google could protect its brand from offensive content of any kind.
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Ashley May and Mike Snider contributed to this report.
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