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WATCH: YouTube CEO: We’ll Remove Any Content That Goes Against WHO Recommendations
Susan Wojcicki speaks onstage at WIRED25 Summit: WIRED Celebrates 25th Anniversary With Tech Icons Of The Past & Future on October 15, 2018 in San Francisco, California.
Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for WIRED25

Speaking on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” with host Brian Stelter, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki stated that anything that would contradict World Health Organization recommendations would be removed from the platform.

Wojcicki said, “We have actually seen a 75 percent increase in the news coming from authoritative sources since the beginning of 2020. So, we have seen a lot of demand there. But then we also —”

Stelter interrupted, “What does that mean? That means an increase in video views for those?”

Wojcicki continued, “Yes. And so we talk about that as raising authoritative information. But then we also talk about removing information that is problematic, you know. Of course, anything that is medically unsubstantiated. So people saying, like, take vitamin C, you know, take turmeric, like, those are — will cure you. Those are the examples of things that would be a violation of our policy. Anything that would go against World Health Organization recommendations would be a violation of our policy. And so remove is another really important part of our policy.”

After a live-streamed video aired on April 6 with David Icke, whom the BBC describes as a “conspiracy theorist,” in which Icke claimed about the coronavirus that there “is a link between 5G and this health crisis,” as well as claiming that a coronavirus vaccine would include “nanotechnology microchips” permitting humans to be controlled and that billionaire Bill Gates should be jailed, YouTube deleted the video.

When the BBC queried why YouTube allowed the video to be aired, a YouTube spokesperson replied:

We have clear policies that prohibit videos promoting medically unsubstantiated methods to prevent the coronavirus in place of seeking medical treatment, and we quickly remove videos violating these policies when flagged to us. Now any content that disputes the existence or transmission of Covid-19, as described by the WHO [World Health Organization] and local health authorities is in violation of YouTube policies.

This includes conspiracy theories which claim that the symptoms are caused by 5G. For borderline content that could misinform users in harmful ways, we reduce recommendations. We’ll continue to evaluate the impact of these videos on communities around the world.

Wojcicki’s statement apparently goes further, as the statement from YouTube to the BBC said the platform would consider “content that disputes the existence or transmission of Covid-19, as described by the WHO” to be in violation of YouTube’s policies, but Wojcicki now broadens that prohibition to include “anything that would go against World Health Organization recommendations.”

YouTube removed videos of Brazilian president Jair Messias Bolsonaro in which he extolled the virtues of hydroxychloroquine, saying it was the best treatment for COVID-19. Axios reported on April 7, “YouTube is also aggressively enforcing existing medical misinformation policies that prohibit promoting false cures or encouraging people not to see a doctor. And it expanded that policy to bar promoting actions that go against recommendations from national health authorities. It was on that basis that the company took down posts by Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, who has downplayed the virus and the importance of social distancing and other precautions.”

Bolsonaro has stated, “There is no coronavirus vaccination or highly effective medicine, but I still think hydroxychloroquine is quite effective. It will make the virus disappear quickly.”

When Neal Mohan, YouTube’s product chief, was asked if someone could post a video endorsing a drug yet to be approved by the FDA for treating coronavirus, he responded, “That gets at the challenge. It’s a balancing act…. We are not medical experts ourselves.”

Video below:

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