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YouTube suspends Ron Johnson for 7 days
YouTube suspended Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) from posting videos on the platform for one week over his remarks touting unproven treatments for COVID-19.
The platform said it also removed a video from Johnson in line with its policies against COVID-19 misinformation. The video had highlighted Johnson's remarks from a hearing where he discussed experimental treatments for COVID-19 like hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin.
"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 Hill.
A YouTube blog post explaining the policy says the platform will not promote content that "contradicts local health authorities' or the World Health Organization's (WHO) medical information about COVID-19," and YouTube told The Hill it does not allow any information that it says risks harming people.
YouTube also noted that it has a policy of removing content from any user and has a longstanding three strikes policy.
The video that was taken down showed Johnson tearing into the Biden administration over its response to the pandemic and touting the two drugs, which are unproven as treatments for the virus.
"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 early in this pandemic," Johnson said before calling ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine "incredibly safe."
Johnson tore into YouTube's decision on Friday, casting it as emblematic of "Big Tech's" power.
"YouTube's ongoing Covid censorship proves they have accumulated too much unaccountable power. Big Tech and mainstream media believe they are smarter than medical doctors who have devoted their lives to science and use their skills to save lives. They have decided there is only one medical viewpoint allowed and it is the viewpoint dictated by government agencies," he said in a statement.
"How many lives will be lost as a result? How many lives could have been saved with a free exchange of medical ideas? Government-sanctioned censorship of ideas and speech should concern us all."
Hydroxychloroquine first gained prominence when former President Trump touted the unproven drug in 2020 as an effective tool to fight the coronavirus. He later said he took the drug when he contracted the illness himself.
Various studies have shown that the drug, traditionally used as an antimalarial, is not effective at treating COVID-19 and may cause adverse effects.
A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in July found that hydroxychloroquine did not improve outcomes for 667 COVID-19 patients who participated in a randomized trial at 55 Brazilian hospitals. Other studies have also shown that coronavirus patients who receive the drug were more likely to experience issues like heart rhythm irregularities compared with patients who did not receive the drug.