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YouTube censors Florida governor

Tech giant labels a pandemic discussion with scientists as misinformation


Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in Palmetto, Fla. Associated Press/Photo by Chris O’Meara (file)

YouTube censors Florida governor

Google-owned YouTube has once again banned a video featuring an elected official.

In January, following the U.S. Capitol riot, the video streaming website removed videos of former President Donald Trump addressing the attack and claiming he had won the election. This time, rather than accusations of voter fraud, the offending content featured a medical discussion on whether schools should require children to wear masks to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

A Tampa Bay, Fla., news station embedded footage in one of its reports from a March 18 roundtable discussion of COVID-19 best practices moderated by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. The panel consisted of several highly credentialed medical doctors, including Harvard biostatistician Martin Kulldorff, Oxford epidemiologist Sunetra Gupta, Stanford health economist and infectious disease specialist Jay Bhattacharya, and Stanford radiologist and former White House adviser Scott Atlas.

Kulldorff, Bhattacharya, and Gupta wrote a petition called the Great Barrington Declaration that called for a more moderate approach to COVID-19 prevention than most states and countries took. More than 56,000 scientists and doctors signed the declaration, which also received broad criticism from clinicians who supported strict lockdowns.

In the video, DeSantis asked the panelists if they felt the evidence merited requiring children to wear masks to prevent the spread of the disease. All of them responded that it didn’t.

“Children should not wear face masks, no,” Kulldorff said. “They don’t need it for their own protection and they don’t need it for protecting other people, either.” Bhattacharya called it “developmentally inappropriate” and said it is “absolutely not the right thing to do.” And Atlas argued that there is “no scientific rationale or logic” for requiring kids to cover their faces in classrooms.

These opinions, which contradict U.S. Centers for Disease Control guidelines that children 2 and older should wear masks in public, apparently triggered the video’s removal, first flagged Wednesday by the libertarian think tank American Institute for Economic Research.

Citing “clear policies around COVID-19 medical misinformation to support the health and safety of our users,” YouTube spokeswoman Elena Hernandez said the company removed the video because it “included content that contradicts the consensus of local and global health authorities regarding the efficacy of masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

DeSantis press secretary Cody McCloud blasted the decision, saying in a statement, “Good public health policy should include a variety of scientific and technical expertise, and YouTube’s decision to remove this video suppresses productive dialogue of these complex issues.” He described the purge as another example of Big Tech censorship of ideas that contradict corporate agendas.

Political intervention may play a bigger role in which videos remain on the platform than executives’ personal views, though.

In recent months, Democrats have ratcheted up pressure on YouTube to censor content they find objectionable. In November, Democratic Sens. Robert Menendez of New Jersey, Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, Gary Peters of Michigan, and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota urged the video streaming site to police and remove videos related to election outcomes more aggressively. The group pushed YouTube to commit to “removing content containing false or misleading information” regarding elections.

Then, in March, a House subcommittee called on Google CEO Sundar Pichai to testify in answer to accusations his company allowed “misinformation to spread, intensifying national crises with real-life, grim consequences for public health and safety.” The Energy and Commerce committee’s news release announcing the hearing included a statement most private businesses would find ominous: “Industry self-regulation has failed. We must begin the work of changing incentives driving social media companies to allow and even promote misinformation and disinformation.”


Megan Basham

Megan is film and television editor for WORLD and co-host for WORLD Radio. She is a World Journalism Institute graduate and author of Beside Every Successful Man: A Woman's Guide to Having It All. Megan resides with her husband, Brian Basham, and their two daughters in Charlotte, N.C.

@megbasham

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Nwe9032

Monopolies are unfair and disruptive to true capitalism, and these big tech companies are indeed monopolies. They have way too much power and need to be broken up. Their pervasive and inconsistent censorship can even influence the outocme of elections. (What do you know?) What makes it worse is that the instittutional government authorities are not trustworthy either; they seem to regularly make judgments along political ideology rather than decisions based on facts. Certain facts are readibly accepted while other facts are summarily ignored or denied. In addition to inconcistent declarations about Coronavirus issues, consider the FDA's recent decision to allow the abortion pill to be obtained via telemedicine now . Both seem to support a progressive political agenda. It's all so subversive, and I appreciate World for trying to sort through it all.

The fruits of relativism in our culture and values are coming home to roost. Objectivity is now completely subjective. Even though it is now becoming obvious in the distrust of corporate America and institutional government, it's long been seen in our universities and educational institutions (from which relativism has been fostered). The most hurtful and impacting fruit has been seen in the breakdown of marriages and the family.

The result of pervasive distrust is division and chaos, and chaos in every aspect of our culture is abounding and growing. Why should we be surprised? Man is a sinner and is rightly NOT to be trusted. Apart from a revival and our submission to the real Authority, some sort of communist / socialist / elistist rule is inevitable ... to maintain order (most will conclude that it's better than chaos or anarchy). The foolishness of God is wiser than the wisest wisdom of man. Embracing Him and His unalterable values are the only things that make sense and will last. May God have mercy on us, and we wake up as a country to see it.

Kevin Abegg

Thank you Mrs. Basham; As of late, being banned from social media is akin to a badge of honor. Do we want a populace that can, and is willing to think and weigh the merits of both sides of the argument, or one that avoids thinking altogether?  It's hard to become aware of the fallacies of one's own arguments (or dangers of preferences) if we only speak into echo chambers.  

Jill Unruh

I am very concerned about the power that big tech has and their censorship. World News is currently the only news source I read and trust. You have a big responsibility, World. I am praying for you.