Sen. Ron Johnson accused YouTube of censorship Friday after the Wisconsin Republican had his account on the platform suspended for sharing video footage of him touting treatments for COVID-19 of questioned effectiveness.
YouTube confirmed it removed the video of Mr. Johnson for violating its rules against medical misinformation and explained his account would therefore be restricted from uploading content for seven days.
The offending footage originated from an online event that had been hosted by the Milwaukee Press Club on June 3 where Mr. Johnson spoke approvingly of using the drugs hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin.
Mr. Johnson said during the event that he believed “real blunders” were made by the Trump and Biden administrations for not “robustly exploring” the use of either drug as potential treatments for COVID-19.
“It always baffled me that there was such a concerted effort to deny the American public the type of robust exploration research into early treatment,” he said before calling both drugs “incredibly safe.”
YouTube confirmed it pulled down from the event that had been uploaded to Mr. Johnson‘s channel and said the senator’s account would be suspended for a week under its longstanding three-strikes policy.
“We removed the video in accordance with our COVID-19 medical misinformation policies, which don’t allow content that encourages people to use Hydroxychloroquine or Ivermectin to treat or prevent the virus,” a YouTube spokesperson told The Washington Times.
“YouTube’s arrogant Covid censorship continues,” Mr. Johnson reacted on Twitter. “How many lives will be lost as a result? How many lives could have been saved with a free exchange of medical ideas? This suppression of speech should concern every American.”
YouTube rules prohibit users from sharing misinformation about COVID-19, the highly infectious respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus, including content that poses a serious risk of egregious harm or contradicts the guidance of local or global health authorities. The U.S. National Institutes of Health and Food and Drug Administration have recommended against using Hydroxychloroquine and Ivermectin to treat COVID-19, respectively.
Corri Hess, the president of the Milwaukee Press Club, said after the video was removed from Mr. Johnson‘s channel that footage of the “on the record event with journalists” remained available on her group’s YouTube page Friday. That video was removed by YouTube later that evening, she said on Twitter afterward.