YouTube and Vimeo have taken down a video that explains the possibility of experimental U.V. light treatment after U.S. President Donald Trump publicized about a similar method to combat COVID-19.
According to YouTube, a video-sharing giant, the video violated its terms of service, causing it to be removed from the platform. The video in question was the Healight treatment video published by Aytu BioScience.
Similarly, Vimeo, another video-sharing platform, also removed the said video.
This is how powerful @Facebook is, how much speech it controls, how much of our time & attention it claims: it now has a special censorship committee to decide what speech can stay & what should go. Facebook basically making the case it should be broken up https://t.co/EveWPZicib
— Josh Hawley (@HawleyMO) May 6, 2020
Content Being Removed is Censorship Potentially
These are not the only instances when tech giants are working continuously to shape what citizens see and hear online such as absurd health claims and more worrisome protesters who badly wanted their views to be heard.
Moreover, conservatives are sensitive concerning the trend following aggressive stunts of silencing their voices online.
Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, Twitter has already punished conservatives, including actor James Woods, who, according to Twitter itself, went against the platform’s policies.
YouTube channels like PragerU, which offers right-learning life lessons and other rightful content, were marked “restricted,” which makes it less likely to be viewed by young viewers.
Tech platforms are selectively taking sides along with elected officeholders to keep the status quo now that most of the Americans are eager to open the economy again.
Meanwhile, Facebook is also facing backlash from critics like Missouri Republican Senator Josh Hawley and Donald Trump, Jr. This is because the said platform silenced some voices who are rallying to support lockdown protests. Facebook also removed posts connected to anti-quarantine gatherings in Nebraska, California, and New Jersey.
WHO Accused of Being Involved in Censorship with Facebook
On the other hand, YouTube said that it will take down videos that are running counter the U.N. system global health body World Health Organization (WHO). WHO peddled from the Chinese government dubious information regarding the country’s fight against the pandemic. The organization also echoed the regime’s claim that the COVID-19 virus cannot be transmitted by humans.
In addition, WHO also slammed Trump’s decision to ban flights that come from China– a decision which later on viewed as an imperative move to stop the spread of the virus.
According to Susan Wojcicki, the CEO of the video-sharing giant YouTube, they talked about taking down problematic information or any information that would go against the recommendations of the World Health Organization. She added that any information that would fit the description, as mentioned earlier, will be considered as a violation of the platform’s policy.
Facebook Followers Railing Against Facebook Censorship Regarding Pandemic
However, many conservatives like columnist Vijay Jayaraj were railing against the overreach of this big tech. According to him, YouTube’s move endangers censorship. It can potentially restrict the flow of information from competing sources, which is essential in discovering both truths and false information as well as in the growth of knowledge.
Advocates of free speech understand how sensitive the existing times and tasks are. Still, they noted that the aggressive move may not serve the interest of the public and that it may backfire in some cases.
The senior editor at Reason.com Robby Soave does not agree with YouTube and other platforms’ heavy-handed blocking of content. However, he has no question about the platforms’ constitutional rights to do so.
Soave added that the big techs are private companies, so the First Amendment is out of the issue. However, he still thinks that blocking content comes with a potential cost. Consider content that can be deemed as problems involving a possible cure to coronavirus, such as hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malaria drug. Soave said that there would be tons more of such information, so it would be better for platforms to just let it exist. He emphasized that any effort to control all the information that people have is going to look foolish because no one knows everything about the disease yet.
Are you frustrated with Facebook's censorship policies? Here are three non-Facebook options that can generate demand for your business, the services you offer and the products you sell. https://t.co/Zk4eaKMkvp
— National Shooting Sports Foundation | NSSF (@NSSF) March 7, 2020
Is there a Pandemic Level of Censorship on Facebook?
Additionally, David Keating, the president of the Institute for Free Speech that is based in D.C. said that blindly supporting government dictums, carries the potential to disservice the public. He added that to this day, the official guidance in the U.K. is not to wear masks to prevent the transmission of the fatal coronavirus. Basically, the government is lying to its people through this guidance because they do not want the people to buy medical-grade face masks. He also cited that Taiwan had a successful fight against the virus transmission and part of its battle involved using face masks, contrary to what the U.K. guidelines say.
Furthermore, Keating added that one thing people learned over history is that governments lie most of the time, and while WHO is not a government, it shares many similar characteristics. According to him, blindly following ill wisdom can lead to other harmful effects.
The Civil Liberties Director for San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation David Greene said that he understands the needs of various platforms to patrol content. He mentioned that while platforms like YouTube have all the legal rights to take down material that goes against its policy, they still need to do such from a human rights framework.
Greene also emphasized that what the tech giants are trying to do involves thousands of impossible decisions and that it is impossible to moderate content well. Assuming that everyone who is involved in this issue is moral, moderating content is still tough to do.
Mike Cernovich also publicized his distaste about the tech giants’ move to silence free speech. Earlier in April, Amazon took down Hoaxed, the right of center journalist’s 2019 documentary Directed by Jon du Toit and Scooter Downey, the said literature lambasted modern journalism and biased reporting. It even took some swings against Cernovich himself, who confessed that he was less rigorous in the early days of his reporting career, including in his infamous support of the Pizzagate scandal.
The Hoaxed documentary was able to jump in the third spot on the documentary list of iTunes after Amazon took it down. It also garnered the second spot as the highest-selling documentary on the platform Apple, right behind Free Solo, a feature that won in the Oscar.