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YouTube to remove videos with instructions for unsafe abortions

The video giant said people should begin to see a crackdown on videos with instructions for unsafe abortion methods or other content that can lead to "real-world harm."
The YouTube logo
The YouTube logo outside the YouTube Space studios in London on June 4, 2019.Olly Curtis / Future via Getty Images files

YouTube said Thursday it would take a tougher line on abortion-related misinformation, as the video app and other social media platforms become a battleground for debates over abortion access.

The Google-owned platform said it would start removing videos and other content with instructions for unsafe abortion methods or with false claims about abortion safety.

YouTube did not elaborate on what specific abortion-related claims it would take down, but the company linked to its general policy on misinformation. That policy bans information “that can cause real-world harm, like promoting harmful remedies or treatments.”

Since the Supreme Court ruling last month overturning Roe v. Wade, medical experts have warned against the online spread of false information about abortion such as alleged herb-based abortion options.

"Like all of our policies on health/medical topics, we rely on published guidance from health authorities," YouTube said in a series of tweets.

"We prioritize connecting people to content from authoritative sources on health topics, and we continuously review our policies & products as real world events unfold," the company said.

YouTube also said it would place a box with relevant information from health authorities adjacent to abortion-related videos and certain search results.

YouTube's crackdown echoes the approach that the company and its competitors took early in the coronavirus pandemic, when they said they would remove medical misinformation related to Covid-19 even if some users agreed with the false claims.

Social media competitor Meta, owner of Instagram and Facebook, has separately faced criticism for taking down information related to abortion pills, citing a policy against the buying and selling of pharmaceuticals.