State Watch

DeSantis rips YouTube over removal of pandemic video

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) is lashing out at YouTube after the company took down a video of a panel discussion he participated in criticizing lockdowns and other public health measures during the coronavirus pandemic.

DeSantis argued that the tech giant’s removal of the video from its platform constitutes a suppression of speech. His comments underscore broader allegations by Republicans that large technology companies are trying to stifle conservative speech and are more sympathetic to Democratic ideas and statements.

“Google/YouTube has not been throughout this pandemic repositories of truth and scientific inquiry, but have instead acted [as] enforcers of a narrative, a big tech council of censors in service of the ruling elite,” DeSantis said during a news conference this week according to The Associated Press

The March 18 panel discussion reportedly included Scott Atlas, a controversial doctor and adviser to former President Trump on the pandemic, and other medical professionals who stated support for DeSantis’s push to reopen Florida’s economy despite the ongoing health crisis. 

“YouTube has clear policies around COVID-19 medical misinformation to support the health and safety of our users,” YouTube said in a statement to the outlet on Monday. “We removed this video because it included content that contradicts the consensus of local and global health authorities regarding the efficacy of masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

DeSantis has resisted statewide lockdown measures and never ordered a mask mandate for all Florida residents. He has insisted the state should instead focus on protecting and vaccinating the “most vulnerable” populations in the state such as the elderly. 

A firebrand in the GOP, DeSantis has grabbed headlines in recent weeks for sparring with “60 Minutes” over a segment alleging he favored the grocery store chain Publix, a political donor, when awarding a contract to distribute vaccines across the state.

The Republican has also stated support for legislation in Florida that would restrict what social media companies can remove from their sites, the AP noted. 

Tags Coronavirus COVID-19 Donald Trump Florida Pandemic Ron DeSantis Scott Atlas Social media YouTube
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