YouTube on Tuesday removed a video by Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky for the second time and suspended him from publishing for a week after he posted a video that disputed the effectiveness of wearing masks to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
A YouTube spokesperson said the Republican senator’s claims in the three-minute video had violated the company’s policy on Covid-19 medical misinformation. The company policy bans videos that spread a wide variety of misinformation, including “claims that masks do not play a role in preventing the contraction or transmission of Covid-19.”
“We apply our policies consistently across the platform, regardless of speaker or political views, and we make exceptions for videos that have additional context such as countervailing views from local health authorities,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
In the video, Mr. Paul says: “Most of the masks you get over the counter don’t work. They don’t prevent infection.” Later in the video, he adds, “Trying to shape human behavior isn’t the same as following the actual science, which tells us that cloth masks don’t work.”
In fact, masks do work, according to the near-unanimous recommendations of public health experts.
On Tuesday, Twitter suspended Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, Republican of Georgia, for seven days after she posted that the Food and Drug Administration should not give the coronavirus vaccines full approval and that the vaccines were “failing.”
On Twitter, Mr. Paul called his suspension “a badge of honor” and blamed “left-wing cretins at YouTube,” while linking to an alternative site to watch the video.
In a statement, the senator said that private companies had the right to bar him, but that YouTube’s decision was “a continuation of their commitment to act in lock step with the government.”
“I think this kind of censorship is very dangerous, incredibly anti-free speech and truly anti-progress of science, which involves skepticism and argumentation to arrive at the truth,” he said.
Last week, YouTube removed from his channel an eight-minute Newsmax interview in which the senator said that “there’s no value” in wearing masks. According to YouTube policy, the company issues a warning for a first offense, then the weeklong suspension is part of its “first strike” response to a second offense.
The strike will be removed from his account after 90 days if there are no more violations. A second-strike in the 90 days would result in a two-week suspension, and the account would be permanently banned after a third strike.