As YouTube promotes its updated vaccine policy, the platform continues to fail at moderating content promoting ivermectin as a COVID-19 cure, even though violative content has been widely reported and some comes from repeat offenders. Now, users are documenting their experiences with ivermectin on the streaming platform, garnering tens of thousands of views and generating revenue for YouTube.
On September 8, Media Matters reported on numerous videos on the streaming platform promoting medical misinformation about the deworming medication. As we noted in our reporting, YouTube’s own COVID-19 medical misinformation policy prohibits “content that recommends use of Ivermectin or Hydroxychloroquine for the treatment of COVID-19” and “categorical claims that Ivermectin is an effective treatment for COVID-19.” Additionally, the social media platform claims it will be banning prominent anti-vaccine figures and blocking “any videos that claim that commonly used vaccines approved by health authorities are ineffective or dangerous,” including those for chicken pox and the measles.
However, since the publication of our last article, Media Matters has identified new ivermectin-focused YouTube videos, including several in which users document their experiences with the medication. Some of these videos are accompanied by advertisements, indicating YouTube is making money off the violative content.
YouTube’s failure to moderate this content is particularly frustrating when considering several of the accounts spreading these claims -- such as Steven Crowder’s channel and The Jimmy Dore Show -- are repeat offenders at spreading misinformation during the pandemic. Yet YouTube still hosts their content, allowing them to garner hundreds of thousands of views. Videos pushing ivermectin are easy to find on YouTube -- Crowder uploaded a video of Alex Jones ranting about the vaccine while ingesting ivermectin, which has garnered nearly 500,000 views. (Jones has been banned from the platform since 2018.)
Concerningly, documenting self-treatments for COVID-19 is an increasingly popular video theme on the platform. Several of the new videos we found circulating on YouTube are from everyday users pushing the use of ivermectin as a COVID-19 treatment. One video shows a woman advocating for the medicine to treat COVID-19, while another directs users on how to get ivermectin online. Many of these videos contain in-depth information in the description section, with some users offering the exact dosage they took.
These videos often suggest that the COVID-19 vaccine is unsafe and that individuals should self-medicate with other measures to combat the virus, which can be incredibly dangerous. The Food and Drug Administration has reported:
The FDA has not authorized or approved ivermectin for the treatment or prevention of COVID-19 in people or animals. Ivermectin has not been shown to be safe or effective for these indications.
Even the levels of ivermectin for approved human uses can interact with other medications, like blood-thinners. You can also overdose on ivermectin, which can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, hypotension (low blood pressure), allergic reactions (itching and hives), dizziness, ataxia (problems with balance), seizures, coma and even death.
Additionally, the FDA warned that ivermectin meant for humans is different from the version of the drug given to animals, and the doses meant for animals usually have a higher concentration of active ingredients, making them more toxic for people.
It also appears that YouTube is allowing advertisers to boost ivermectin on its platform. When Media Matters searched YouTube for the terms “ivermetin,” “ivermetine,” and “ivermecting” using incognito mode on Google Chrome, we found ads promoting the antiparasitic drug, including ads promoting the drug for its human antiviral properties.
YouTube is touting its updated vaccine policy and garnering positive press coverage. Yet every day the video streaming service continues to allow COVID-19 misinformation to reach millions of viewers on its platform, further promoting the dangerous idea that medical experts are not to be trusted during a deadly pandemic.