YouTube suspended Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., for seven days Tuesday and removed a video that noted cloth masks do not prevent infection, saying it violated policies on COVID-19 misinformation.
It is the second time this month one of Paul’s videos has been taken down by YouTube for breaking its rules about misleading content.
“We removed content from Sen. Paul’s channel for including claims that masks are ineffective in preventing the contraction or transmission of COVID-19, in accordance with our COVID-19 medical misinformation policies,” YouTube said in a statement. “We apply our policies consistently across the platform, regardless of speaker or political views.”
The remarks are not that far from past remarks from Dr. Anthony Fauci a year ago, when the before the Trump administration moved to call for Americans to wear masks to help flatten the curve on COVID-19.
In the three-minute video Paul disputed the effectiveness of masks, which the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and medical experts around the world have recommended to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
“Most of the masks you get over the counter don’t work,” Paul, an eye surgeon, said in the video. “They don’t prevent infection.”
During the seven-day suspension, Paul will be unable to post new videos to his YouTube account.
Paul called YouTube’s decision a “badge of honor” in a Tweet. In a statement issued by his office he acknowledged the company has the right to police its own platform.
“As a libertarian-leaning Senator, I think private companies have the right to ban me if they want to, so in this case I’ll just channel that frustration into ensuring the public knows YouTube is acting as an arm of government and censoring their users for contradicting the government,” he said.
Last week YouTube removed a video Paul posted of an interview in which he also disputed whether masks work to prevent infection. Additional violations of YouTube’s policies could result in a two-week suspension followed by a permanent ban.
Twitter took similar action this week against Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., suspending her for a week after she tweeted the “vaccines are failing & do not reduce the spread of the virus & neither do masks.” It has been widely established vaccines and masks provide some protection amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Greene was also suspended last month, for 12 hours. Twitter said some of her tweets violated its policy against spreading misinformation that could cause harm during the coronavirus pandemic. Such suspensions mean the person’s account is still visible on Twitter, but they cannot post anything.
Greene appears to have been disciplined under the strike system Twitter launched in March, using a combination of artificial intelligence and machine learning to identify content about the coronavirus that is misleading enough to cause harm to people. Two or three strikes earn a 12-hour account lock; four strikes prompt a weeklong suspension, and five or more strikes can get someone permanently removed from Twitter. YouTube uses a similar system.
Greene said in an emailed statement, Twitter “suspended me for speaking the truth, and tweeting what so many people are saying.”
Twitter, she added, “only cares about the left’s radical narrative.”