YouTube for the second time on Tuesday removed a video of Kentucky Senator Rand Paul and suspended him for a week after he posted a video questioning the effectiveness of wearing masks in limiting the spread of the coronavirus.
A YouTube spokesperson said the Republican senator’s claims in the three-minute video violated the company’s policy on medical misinformation about Covid-19. Company policy prohibits videos that spread a wide range of misinformation, including “claims that masks play no role in preventing the contraction or transmission of Covid-19.”
“We consistently apply our policies across the platform, regardless of speaker or political views, and we make exceptions for videos that have additional context, such as compensatory stances from local health authorities,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
In the video, Mr. Paul: “Most masks you get over the counter don’t work. They do not prevent infection.” Later in the video, he adds, “Trying to shape human behavior is not the same as following the actual science that tells us cloth masks don’t work.”
According to the almost unanimous recommendations of public health experts, masks do indeed work.
On Tuesday, Twitter Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Republican of Georgia, suspended seven days after she posted that the Food and Drug Administration should not give full approval to the coronavirus vaccines and that the vaccines “failed.”
On Twitter, Mr. Paul called his suspension “a badge of honor” and accused “left-wing idiots on YouTube” while linking to an alternative site to watch the video.
In a statement, the senator said private companies had the right to ban him, but YouTube’s decision was “a continuation of their commitment to act in step with the government.”
“I think this kind of censorship is very dangerous, incredibly anti-freedom of speech and really anti-progress of science, which takes skepticism and argumentation to get to the truth,” he said.
Last week, YouTube removed from its channel an eight-minute Newsmax interview in which the senator said there is “no value” in wearing masks. Under YouTube’s policy, the company warns of a first violation, after which the one-week suspension is part of the “first strike” response to a second violation.
The strike will be removed from his account after 90 days if there are no more violations. A second strike in 90 days would result in a two-week suspension and the account would be permanently banned after a third strike.