Citing its “Community Guidelines,” YouTube took down a viral video of two California doctors holding a press conference in which they disputed the need for quarantines, the closures of businesses and even the need for masks.
The doctors, Dan Erickson and Artin Massihi of Bakersfield, California, discussed their findings based on their clinical experience and treatment of over 5,000 COVID-19 patients. Claiming that government and medical authorities had ramped up fear with dire predictions of over two million deaths in the U.S. alone, the doctors observed that people were not going to the hospital for other necessary treatments and operations not related to COVID-19. People suffering heart attacks and strokes were not calling for ambulances, for example, putting their lives in further jeopardy. Emergency rooms are nearly empty around the country, the doctors pointed out, as people needing emergency treatment feared exposure to COVID-19. That’s not a good thing. The doctors asked whether anyone is tracking deaths related to these unintended consequences of the coronavirus hype.
The press conference was taped by a local news outlet and uploaded to the outlet’s YouTube account. In the space of a few days, the video was removed by YouTube, even though it had received over five million views by then. The video has made its way onto other platforms such as Facebook without incident.
YouTube issued a statement to press outlets explaining its actions, including one to The Daily Wire:
“We quickly remove flagged content that violate our Community Guidelines, including content that explicitly disputes the efficacy of local health authority recommended guidance on social distancing that may lead others to act against that guidance,” YouTube spokesperson Ivy Choi told The Daily Wire in an emailed statement Tuesday. “However, content that provides sufficient educational, documentary, scientific or artistic (EDSA) context is allowed — for example, news coverage of this interview with additional context. From the very beginning of the pandemic, we’ve had clear policies against COVID-19 misinformation and are committed to continue providing timely and helpful information at this critical time.”
Notice the phrase “disputes the efficacy of local health authority recommended guidance.” That nearly incomprehensible word salad means that YouTube is censoring speech that disagrees with government speech on this issue. The Daily Citizen reviewed YouTube’s “Community Guidelines” and its special COVID-19 policies and found nothing related to the type of speech contained in the doctors’ press conference.
If that isn’t frightening enough, YouTube’s CEO, Susan Wojcicki has already explained in a CNN interview that it will take down any videos that contradict or challenge conclusions and recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO). “Anything that is medically unsubstantiated, so people saying, like, ‘Take Vitamin C… take turmeric, those cure you,’ those are examples of things that would be a violation of our policy. Um, anything that would go against World Health Organization recommendations would be a violation of our policy,” Wojcicki said.
The WHO is not exactly to be trusted. Tucker Carlson from Fox News this week pointed out WHO’s mistakes thus far: “In mid-January, WHO told us that coronavirus could not spread from person-to-person. In March, they told us that face masks didn’t work. Those were lies, and they were welcome on Google’s platforms.” YouTube is owned by Google.
Social media giants have come under fire for a while for censoring conservative content. But now they have started shutting down any speech from any source that differs from the government’s or WHO’s position, under the pretense of preventing the spread of harmful misinformation.
We used to tolerate “misinformation” as a necessary price to pay in order to enjoy a robust arena for open exchange of ideas in this country. We learned early on that the remedy for bad speech is not censorship, but more and better speech. “Censorship” is at the heart of the First Amendment in that it prohibits government from blocking messages it disagrees with. Private entities, however, are not bound by the First Amendment and can typically censor and control messages that people place on their platforms. But when those private companies become too large and are so powerful that they become an impediment to the marketplace of ideas, and they side with the government’s view of things (or worse, one political party’s view), it’s necessary for something to change.
Where are the free market solutions to the petty tyrants of YouTube/Google and other social media platforms? People aren’t turning in droves to other platforms. We all like the convenience of platforms that everyone else is on, don’t we? We all want the views. There’s money in it, especially where YouTube is concerned.
We’ve enjoyed the convenience of the dominant social media giants for far too long. They are slowly using their power to force us to speak and hear only their views. That would be a tragedy, if we allow it to happen.