YouTube says it will take down any videos that contradict what the World Health Organization says about the coronavirus. As the WHO finds itself in the middle of controversy over China’s handling of COVID-19, it sounds like any videos even criticizing the agency could be removed.
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Of course, the issue of censorship by the world’s biggest tech firms isn’t new, and it’s unlikely to change anytime soon.
In an interview with CNN, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki said they’ve seen a 75% increase in video views for news from “authoritative sources” since the beginning of 2020. She also said they’ve been busy removing “problematic information” like anything that is “medically unsubstantiated.”
Susan gave examples of videos advising people to take vitamin C or turmeric as content that violates YouTube’s policies. She also said YouTube will remove anything that goes against World Health Organization recommendations.
Another example of a topic the video platform cracked down on is the conspiracy theory claiming 5G towers cause coronavirus symptoms. She added that even during non-pandemic times, they’ve been removing information that is a violation of their policy. She also said YouTube has made “numerous policy changes” to stay ahead of the rapid changes
One of the most widespread theories about the coronavirus is that it originated in a lab in Wuhan, the original epicenter of the virus. The theory has picked up so much steam that the U.S. has reportedly launched an official investigation into it.
However, YouTube could theoretically remove videos that talk about this theory because the World Health Organization officially said on Tuesday that COVID-19 did not come from any lab. A spokesperson for the WHO said on Tuesday that the virus is likely of animal origin.
This isn’t the first time public health experts have said that COVID-19 wasn’t engineered in a lab. However, that doesn’t seem to be the big issue where theories about the Wuhan Institute of Virology’s possible involvement are concerned.
Reuters specifically asked the WHO spokesperson to elaborate on whether the coronavirus may have accidentally escaped from a lab, but she declined. The Wuhan Institute of Virology has repeatedly dismissed theories that lax safety protocols allowed the virus to escape accidentally.
Trump and others take aim at the WHO
President Donald Trump wants to halt funding for the WHO due to its handling of the coronavirus, but he’s not the only one calling into question the agency’s efforts. The WHO has accepted China’s statements of the number of infections and deaths from COVID-19 without questioning the accuracy of the data. Meanwhile, numerous reports out of China have suggested that Beijing isn’t being totally transparent about the severity of the illness within its borders.
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has landed in the crosshairs amid calls for him to step down. Some are calling him a puppet of the Chinese Communist Party. He was Beijing’s choice for the position of WHO director general, Rep. Michael McCaul of the House Foreign Affairs Committee told USA Today. He said Tedros “used the WHO to trumpet their [China’s] lies about the virus.”
Lawrence Gostin of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University, told The New York Times in May 2017 that while Tedros was Ethiopia’s health minister, the government covered up three cholera outbreaks. Tedros denies the claim, and he became director general of the WHO due to his track record of fighting malaria and other serious diseases while serving as Ethiopia’s health minister.
Lawsuit filed against the World Health Organization
Trump isn’t the only one taking aim at the World Health Organization. Three Westchester, New York men are suing the agency, alleging that it mishandled the pandemic response. The lawsuit demands that the WHO pay “incalculable” damagers for the “injury, damage and loss” they suffered due to the pandemic.
According to USA Today, the attorney who represents the plaintiffs in the lawsuit said in the lawsuit that the agency didn’t do enough to make sure the Chinese government was open and honest about the safeguards it was taken to protect against COVID-19.