YouTube has enacted a one-week account suspension of Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) for a video where the senator questioned the effectiveness of wearing face masks against the spread of COVID-19.
What Paul Says: In a statement issued by his office, Paul said that the video in question — which cited a pair of peer-reviewed studies on the efficacy of cloth masks against COVID — was taken off YouTube because the video platform was working “in lockstep with the government” to prevent conversations that raise questions about the national response to the pandemic.
“I think this kind of censorship is very dangerous, incredibly anti-free speech, and truly anti-progress of science, which involves skepticism and argumentation to arrive at the truth,” said Paul. “As a libertarian leaning Senator, I think private companies have the right to ban me if they want to, so in this case I’ll just channel that frustration into ensuring the public knows YouTube is acting as an arm of government and censoring their users for contradicting the government.”
Paul added that the video in question has been uploaded to Rumble, another video platform.
“Saying cloth masks work, when they don’t, actually risks lives, as someone may choose to care for a loved one with COVID while only wearing a cloth mask,” Paul added. “This is not only bad advice, but also potentially deadly misinformation.”
What YouTube Says: This marks the second time in a week that a video uploaded by Paul that discussed the use of masks against COVID was removed from YouTube. Last week, an interview Rand did with a Newsmax journalist on the subject was also taken off the site.
YouTube, which is owned by Alphabet Inc. GOOGGOOGL, told CNN that Paul’s suspension wasn't politically motivated.
“We apply our policies consistently across the platform, regardless of speaker or political views, and we make exceptions for videos that have additional context such as countervailing views from local health authorities,” a YouTube spokesperson said, adding that Paul incurred a “first strike” within the platform’s “longstanding three strikes policy” — with the third strike resulting in his expulsion for YouTube.
Photo: Matt Johnson / Flickr Creative Commons.
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