- JimHumblelive/YouTube; Samantha Lee/Business Insider
- YouTube has updated its policies to explicitly ban videos promoting Miracle Mineral Solution (MMS), a type of bleach which advocates claim can cure conditions like cancer and autism.
- The company listed MMS as one of two examples of banned medical topics in July, after Business Insider exposed how the substance was being promoted on the platform.
- The policy will make it simpler to remove videos promoting MMS, by avoiding arguments with posters over whether it has legitimate medical properties.
- Although the ban exists, it is imperfectly enforced. Business Insider was easily able to find pro-MMS content still on the site.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
YouTube has updated its policies to explicitly ban videos which endorse the substance known as Miracle Mineral Solution.
The change comes after a Business Insider investigation found hundreds of videos on the site presenting the substance as a cure for cancer, autism and malaria.
The claims are groundless, and medical authorities warn members of the public not to ingest the substance, which is actually a type of toxic bleach, chlorine dioxide.
Business Insider in an investigation in May exposed how YouTube videos promoting the substance were racking up millions of views, with many claiming the substance has curative properties.
When Business Insider flagged the videos to the site, YouTube shut down some channels mentioned in the investigation which it said breached its rules against promoting harmful substances.
But since then the site went a step further, making a change in summer to list MMS as one of two substances explicitly banned from promotion on the site.
YouTube added the substance – which it calls “Mineral Solution” – to its list of harmful or dangerous content, alongside bomb-making tutorials and videos glorifying drug-use and anorexia.
In an email to Business Insider, YouTube spokesperson Susan Cadrecha confirmed that the policy changed in July.
However, although the change will likely lead to faster removal of pro-MMS content from YouTube, such content has by no means disappeared.
A quick search of the site shows that videos promoting the substance remain accessible.
Among the top search results under “MMS” are videos by Jim Humble, whose Genesis II Church group promotes the substance as a sacrament and miracle cure, and Kerri Rivera, who advocates giving young children painful bleach enemas to “cure” them of autism.
Both had their channels removed after they were flagged by Business Insider, but videos MMS videos showing the two can still be seen on other channels.
Known to its devotees as Miracle Mineral Solution, MMS is in reality a form of powerful industrial bleach created by mixing sodium chlorite with a domestic acid, like lemon juice.
In August, the US Food and Drugs Administration issued a renewed warning about the dangers of the substance, after a recent rise in people falling ill after consuming it. The FDA had warned the substance was dangerous as long ago as 2010.
“Sodium chlorite products are dangerous, and you and your family should not use them,” the agency warned.
“The FDA has received reports of consumers who have suffered from severe vomiting, severe diarrhea, life-threatening low blood pressure caused by dehydration, and acute liver failure after drinking these products.”
In videos on the site removed after Business Insider flagged them, prominent promoters of the bleach claimed it could cure a raft of otherwise incurable illnesses and conditions.
In the films, people who had used MMS claimed it had miraculous curative powers, while others alleged that the pharmaceuticals industry was engaged in a conspiracy to suppress it.
The three top videos promoting MMS had amassed three million views between them, and pro-MMS videos were surfacing in the top results for searches totally unrelated to the substance.
- JimHumbleLive/YouTube/Business Insider
This indicated that the site’s algorithms were actively pushing the dangerous material to millions of viewers globally who otherwise may never have known about it.
Activist Fiona O’Leary, who has campaigned against the promotion of MMS, welcomed YouTube’s decision.
“YouTube has listened to the concerns of activists and the public and I welcome their decision in banning the dangerous bleach product MMS,” she said.
“I’ve been campaigning against MMS for six years now and I’ve seen hundreds of autistic children and vulnerable people suffer at the hands of MMS charlatans. Deplatforming quackery helps protect the public and prevents snake-oil salesmen from preying on the vulnerable.”