- The Washington Times - Friday, May 8, 2020

Internet platforms including Facebook, YouTube and Twitter sprang to action Thursday to stem the spread of a viral video containing conspiracy theories about the novel coronavirus.

Social networks and video-sharing services removed or restricted access to the so-called “Plandemic” video featuring prominent anti-vaccination activist Judy Mikovits, citing violations of the platform’s policies against misinformation.

The video had already racked up several million views across platforms and could easily be found online Friday, however.

Released online earlier this month, the 26-minute video contains conspiracy theories and false claims about the coronavirus and COVID-19, the contagious disease it causes, such as that is harmful to wear face masks and that, “if you’ve ever had a flu vaccine, you were injected with coronaviruses,” among others.

“Suggesting that wearing a mask can make you sick could lead to imminent harm, so we’re removing the video,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement, several outlets reported.

Video-sharing sites YouTube and Vimeo also pulled “Plandemic” from their platforms, with spokespeople for each service citing their respective policies.

“We quickly remove flagged content that violates our Community Guidelines, including content that includes medically unsubstantiated diagnostic advice for COVID-19 and re-uploads of the original clip if they contain segments that we deem to be violative of YouTube’s Community Guidelines,” a YouTube spokesperson told The Washington Times.

“Vimeo stands firm in keeping our platform safe from content that spreads harmful and misleading health information. The video in question has been removed by our Trust & Safety team for violating these very policies. We are constantly monitoring and will continue to remove any similar videos uploaded,” said a Vimeo spokesperson.

Twitter told The Times that the full video is too long to be posted on its platform but that it would consider removing excerpts found in violation of its rules. In the meantime, Twitter said it has marked a website hosting the video as “unsafe” and had blocked a handful of related hashtags from trending.

Several versions of the video had been viewed a combined total of more than 6 million times before the companies took action Thursday, NBC News reported.

A message requesting comment from Elevate, a California production company that released the video, was not immediately returned Friday.

• Andrew Blake can be reached at ablake@washingtontimes.com.

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