Press "Enter" to skip to content

YouTube is accused of censorship after removing videos that criticize shutdowns

Elon Musk and a host of critics have slammed YouTube for removing a video of two doctors claiming they are being pressured to boost COVID-19 death tolls and urging an end to lockdowns because they do more harm than good.

The site took down the video of Drs. Dan Erickson and Artin Massihi, who run a private urgent-care clinic in Bakersfield, California, on Monday because they claim it violated their user policy by disputing health officials.

But the move has been blasted as censorship and a worrying sign of big tech companies trying to control information during the pandemic.

Social media giants Facebook and Twitter are also coming under increasing scrutiny for removing posts that they say contain health misinformation or calls to break stay-at-home orders. 

The hour-long video with Drs Erickson and Massihi suggesting stay-at-home orders are damaging drew a massive audience, garnering more than five million views before it was removed.

They argue that the mortality rate for coronavirus is minuscule and that lockdowns are disruptive to normal healthcare provision, the functioning of healthy immune systems and are devastating to the economy. 

The doctors also share anecdotes, which they say come from colleagues in hospitals, claiming that there is pressure to add COVID-19 as a cause of death to unrelated fatalities to artificially boost the death toll.  

‘It’s time to open back up. The science says it is. The models we’ve been using from predictions, to predict the amount of disease, are not accurate,’ Erikson said in the press conference.

Tesla CEO Musk, an increasingly outspoken critic of lockdowns, shared the video on Twitter before it was taken down, adding the comment, ‘Docs make good points.’

Drs. Dan Erickson and Artin Massihi, who run a private urgent-care clinic in Bakersfield, California, held a nearly hour-long press conference on April 22

Drs. Dan Erickson and Artin Massihi, who run a private urgent-care clinic in Bakersfield, California, held a nearly hour-long press conference on April 22

Drs. Dan Erickson and Artin Massihi, who run a private urgent-care clinic in Bakersfield, California, held a nearly hour-long press conference on April 22

Tesla CEO Elon Musk touted the video before YouTube removed it from the platform

Tesla CEO Elon Musk touted the video before YouTube removed it from the platform

Tesla CEO Elon Musk touted the video before YouTube removed it from the platform

‘This. Is. Censorship. On what is arguably the most important media platform in the United States,’ tweeted Alex Berenson, a former New York Times reporter who has emerged as one of the strongest skeptics of the lockdowns.

In a blistering opening monologue on Tuesday night, Fox News host Tucker Carlson also railed against the ‘ludicrous’ measures by big tech companies to control what they call misinformation during the pandemic.

‘When this is all over, it’s likely we’ll look back on this moment, what YouTube just did, as a turning point in the way we live in this country, a sharp break with 250 years of law and custom,’ Carlson said.

‘The doctors’ video was produced by a local television channel. It was, in fact a mainstream news story,’ Carlson continued. ‘The only justification for taking it down was that the physicians on-screen had reached different conclusions than the people currently in charge.’ 

Last week, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki told CNN that ‘anything that would go against World Health Organization recommendations would be a violation of our policy.’

‘Consider that for a moment,’ Carlson responded. ‘As a matter of science, it’s ludicrous. Like everyone else involved in global pandemic policy, the WHO has been wrong in its recommendations. In January, WHO told us that coronavirus could not spread from person-to-person. In March, they told us that face masks didn’t work. Those are lies and they were welcome on Google’s platforms.’

Former CNN producer Steve Krakauer said in his Fourth Watch media newsletter that this was an ‘egregious censorship effort on the part of YouTube’ that should make all journalists concerned. 

He added: ‘YouTube can take down this video, of course. But should they? Absolutely not.

‘These doctors weren’t calling for people to cough on other citizens. They weren’t even questioning whether injecting disinfectant might be a good idea. 

‘They were using data to suggest a Sweden model of eased lockdown may be effective. That’s not damaging to the public to watch.’ 

Alex Berenson, a former New York Times reporter who has emerged as one of the strongest skeptics of the lockdowns, harshly criticized YouTube for removing the video

Alex Berenson, a former New York Times reporter who has emerged as one of the strongest skeptics of the lockdowns, harshly criticized YouTube for removing the video

Alex Berenson, a former New York Times reporter who has emerged as one of the strongest skeptics of the lockdowns, harshly criticized YouTube for removing the video

In a blistering opening monologue on Tuesday night, Fox News host Tucker Carlson also railed against the 'ludicrous' measures tech companies are taking to remove information

In a blistering opening monologue on Tuesday night, Fox News host Tucker Carlson also railed against the 'ludicrous' measures tech companies are taking to remove information

In a blistering opening monologue on Tuesday night, Fox News host Tucker Carlson also railed against the ‘ludicrous’ measures tech companies are taking to remove information

It comes as the debate over reopening intensifies, with many states moving to ease restriction

It comes as the debate over reopening intensifies, with many states moving to ease restriction

It comes as the debate over reopening intensifies, with many states moving to ease restriction

Facebook is accused of ‘colluding with state governments to quash free speech’

Facebook says it will consult with state governments on their lockdown orders and will shut down pages planning anti-quarantine protests if the tech giant determines the gatherings violate those rules.  

‘Unless government prohibits the event during this time, we allow it to be organized on Facebook. For this same reason, events that defy government’s guidance on social distancing aren’t allowed on Facebook,’ a spokesperson said on the social network’s policy.

Facebook officials said they reached out to states individually to understand their lockdown orders then removed posts that violated those rules.  

‘We reached out to state officials to understand the scope of their orders, not about removing specific protests on Facebook. We remove the posts when gatherings do not follow the health parameters established by the government and are therefore unlawful,’ a company spokesperson said to DailyMail.com. 

The tech firm says it will allow protests that abide by social distancing guidelines to go forth, but will shut down the ones that defy those health orders.  

The social network said it has already removed protest messages in California, New Jersey and Nebraska.

The move has led to outrage from Donald Trump Jr and Republican figures like Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley, who claim Facebook is violating Americans’ First Amendment rights.  

In a statement to DailyMail.com, a YouTube spokesperson said: ‘We quickly remove flagged content that violate our Community Guidelines, including content that explicitly disputes the efficacy of local healthy authority recommended guidance on social distancing that may lead others to act against that guidance.’

‘However, content that provides sufficient educational, documentary, scientific or artistic (EDSA) context is allowed — for example, news coverage of this interview with additional context,’ the statement continued.

‘From the very beginning of the pandemic, we’ve had clear policies against COVID-19 misinformation and are committed to continue providing timely and helpful information at this critical time,’ the company added.

YouTube points out that news coverage of the doctors’ press conference, which adds commentary and analysis, is still allowed on the platform. 

The doctors in the video, Erickson and Massihi, co-owners of Accelerated Urgent Care, which offers Bakersfield’s only private walk-in COVID-19 testing site.

In the video, which is a recording of a press conference that the duo held on April 22, the doctors said 12 percent of Californians tested for coronavirus so far have had a positive result.

They used that figure to extrapolate an estimate that millions in the state have already contracted the virus, and thus speculate that its mortality rate is much lower that believed.

The doctors speculate that coronavirus has a case fatality rate as low as 0.03 percent, or roughly one-third of the mortality rate of the common flu. 

Experts point out that the coronavirus testing the doctors refer to was not random, and was administered mainly to people who had symptoms or believed that they had been exposed. 

Randomized antibody testing in New York suggests a case fatality rate of 0.5 to 0.8 percent, or five to eight times higher than the flu.

The doctors in the video (above) 'used methods that are ludicrous to get results that are completely implausible' said one infections disease expert

The doctors in the video (above) 'used methods that are ludicrous to get results that are completely implausible' said one infections disease expert

The doctors in the video (above) ‘used methods that are ludicrous to get results that are completely implausible’ said one infections disease expert

Dr. Carl Bergstrom, a University of Washington biologist who specializes in infectious disease modeling, likened their extrapolations to ‘estimating the average height of Americans from the players on an NBA court.’ 

‘They’ve used methods that are ludicrous to get results that are completely implausible,’ Bergstrom said. 

In a rare statement late Monday, the American College of Emergency Physicians and the American Academy of Emergency Medicine declared they ’emphatically condemn the recent opinions released by Dr. Daniel Erickson and Dr. Artin Messihi.’ 

‘These reckless and untested musings do not speak for medical societies and are inconsistent with current science and epidemiology regarding COVID-19,’ the group continued. 

‘As owners of local urgent care clinics, it appears these two individuals are releasing biased, non-peer reviewed data to advance their personal financial interests without regard for the public’s health.’ 

The two doctors tout their support for President Donald Trump, leading some to accuse them of political motivation in their remarks.

Critics of the doctors also point out that non-coronavirus visits to urgent care clinics, such as they one that they own, are down sharply down in the shutdowns, suggesting they may have a financial motive for calling for the restrictions to end.

While criticism of YouTube for removing controversial videos has mostly come from political conservatives, the left has hammered the company for not removing videos fast enough. 

Virginia Senator Mark Warner, a Democrat, blasted YouTube on Tuesday over videos promoting a conspiracy theory that accused a US Army reservist in Virginia of being the source of the outbreak in Wuhan, China. 

Warner’s office reached out to YouTube on Monday asking why the company hadn’t taken down all the videos targeting the woman, CNN reported. 

‘It’s clear that the blanket grant of immunity for sites like YouTube has resulted in platforms that are too big and unresponsive to the harms they promote,’ Warner said, saying Congress need to act.

‘Free America Now’: Billionaire Elon Musk joins protesters demanding COVID-19 lockdowns be lifted

Billionaire Elon Musk has slammed coronavirus lockdown measures by tweeting ‘Free America Now’ as he joined protesters from across the country in demanding restrictions be lifted. 

The Tesla founder fired off a series of tweets late on Tuesday protesting against the current lockdown restrictions and applauded some states, like Texas, which are now restarting their economies.

Musk’s Twitter outburst came just as he was on the cusp of getting a $750 million payout from a bonus scheme that is linked to the electric car-maker’s share price. 

‘FREE AMERICA NOW,’ the 48-year-old tweeted. 

The Tesla founder fired off a series of tweets late on Tuesday protesting against the current lockdown restrictions and applauded some states, like Texas, who are now restarting their economies

The Tesla founder fired off a series of tweets late on Tuesday protesting against the current lockdown restrictions and applauded some states, like Texas, who are now restarting their economies

The Tesla founder fired off a series of tweets late on Tuesday protesting against the current lockdown restrictions and applauded some states, like Texas, who are now restarting their economies

Billionaire Elon Musk has slammed coronavirus lockdown measures by tweeting 'Free America Now' as he joined protesters from across the country in demanding restrictions be lifted

Billionaire Elon Musk has slammed coronavirus lockdown measures by tweeting 'Free America Now' as he joined protesters from across the country in demanding restrictions be lifted

Billionaire Elon Musk has slammed coronavirus lockdown measures by tweeting ‘Free America Now’ as he joined protesters from across the country in demanding restrictions be lifted

Alongside a link to a Wall Street Journal op-ed about whether lockdowns are saving lives, Musk tweeted: ‘Give people their freedom back!’ 

He also tweeted a link to a story about Texas lifting some restrictions this week, saying: ‘Bravo Texas’.

Musk later clarified, in response to a tweet from one of his followers, that he believed states should be reopening slowly. 

‘Yes, reopen with care & appropriate protection, but don’t everyone under de facto house arrest,’ he tweeted. 

Musk had earlier hit out at Silicon Valley, saying it had become ‘Sanctimonious Valley’ and ‘too much the moral arbiter of the world’.

Musk also tweeted a link to a local news story about Texas lifting some restrictions this week, saying: 'Bravo Texas'

Musk also tweeted a link to a local news story about Texas lifting some restrictions this week, saying: 'Bravo Texas'

Musk also tweeted a link to a local news story about Texas lifting some restrictions this week, saying: ‘Bravo Texas’

Alongside a link to a Wall Street Journal op-ed about whether lockdowns are saving lives, Musk tweeted: 'Give people their freedom back!'

Alongside a link to a Wall Street Journal op-ed about whether lockdowns are saving lives, Musk tweeted: 'Give people their freedom back!'

Alongside a link to a Wall Street Journal op-ed about whether lockdowns are saving lives, Musk tweeted: ‘Give people their freedom back!’

Stay-at-home orders issued by governors across the US and subsequent decisions to slowly reopen state economies have turned into highly charged political issues in recent weeks as the shutdowns have hammered the nation’s economy.

People in various states across the country have been protesting against lockdown restrictions. 

Meanwhile, shares of Tesla surged 10 percent at the beginning of the week ahead of the release of the company’s quarterly earning report on Wednesday. 

A stock slump caused by the coronavirus pandemic led to Tesla having to close its factory near San Francisco at the end of March and furlough workers. 

The company originally said it would resume operations on May 4, but Bay Area health officials on Monday extended shelter-in-place orders to the end of May.  

Protesters gathered Tuesday near the North Carolina Legislative Building to protest the current stay-at-home orders issued by Gov. Roy Cooper

Protesters gathered Tuesday near the North Carolina Legislative Building to protest the current stay-at-home orders issued by Gov. Roy Cooper

Protesters gathered Tuesday near the North Carolina Legislative Building to protest the current stay-at-home orders issued by Gov. Roy Cooper

People in various states across the country have been protesting against lockdown restrictions. A rally in San Diego, California drew dozens of protesters on Sunday

People in various states across the country have been protesting against lockdown restrictions. A rally in San Diego, California drew dozens of protesters on Sunday

People in various states across the country have been protesting against lockdown restrictions. A rally in San Diego, California drew dozens of protesters on Sunday

This week’s stock rally put Tesla’s market capitalization at $145 billion. Importantly for Musk, its stock market value reached a six-month average of $96 billion.

Hitting a six-month average of $100 billion would trigger the vesting of the first of 12 tranches of options granted to Musk to buy Tesla stock as part of his two-year-old pay package. 

Each tranche gives Musk the option to buy 1.69 million Tesla shares at $350.02 each. Taking Monday’s Tesla closing stock price of $798.75 as an example, Musk could sell those shares for a profit of $758 million.

Musk does not receive a salary or cash bonus – only options that vest based on Tesla’s market cap and milestones for revenue and profit growth.  

Courtesy DAILY MAIL

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *