YouTube, the Big Tech video mega-platform, may recently have updated its “misinformation” policies so that it will no longer remove content that questions the validity of wearing a face mask to prevent COVID or penalize accounts that publish such content.
YouTube, which is owned by Google, has lengthy “misinformation policies” related to three controversial topics: Elections, vaccines, and COVID. As recently as April, YouTube forbade any content that claims “wearing a mask is dangerous or causes negative physical health effects” or that “masks do not play a role in preventing the contraction or transmission of COVID-19.”
However, by May 31, YouTube had quietly eliminated both of those references to face masks from its list of COVID “prevention misinformation.”
Podcaster Tim Pool, whose YouTube account has over 1.3 million subscribers, tweeted a screenshot of the old policy and the new, highlighting the discrepancy.
“Youtube updated its policies to no longer ban claims that masks do not play a role in preventing spread of COVID,” Pool wrote.
Likely because of the possible confusion that could result from using so many negatives, Pool clarified: “Essentially, you are now allowed to claim masks don’t work.”
— Tim Pool (@Tim Pool)
Free speech proponents will likely celebrate this development, even as many high-profile YouTube accounts are still suffering the effects of exercising their freedom of speech and speaking out against masks between 2020 and May 2022.
YouTube claims it automatically removes any content that violates its policies. Users who violate the policies receive a warning and then a strike if the behavior persists. After three strikes within a 90-day period, an account is permanently suspended.
According to the Daily Wire, Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, a professor at Stanford School of Medicine; Brandon Tatum, a former police officer and current radio host and entrepreneur; and even Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and conservative commentator Dan Bongino have all had their accounts penalized in one form or another because they voiced their skepticism about mask efficacy.
BlazeTV host Elijah Schaffer likewise claims he received a “strike” on account of this policy.
“I got a strike for saying this. We couldn’t stream for a few days. Lost money. Glad to know I was correct,” Schaffer tweeted in response to Pool.
It is unclear whether YouTube intends to restore those accounts terminated for violating this policy. YouTube claims to reserve the right to adjust its COVID misinformation policies as guidance from major health institutions changes.