Joseph Mercola, a Florida doctor known for his promotion of natural health solutions, has sued Google and its parent company Alphabet for banning him from YouTube without advance notice. Mercola wants the court to order YouTube to reinstate his account and award an unspecified amount in monetary damages.
We obtained a copy of the complaint for you here.
Mercola promotes alternative treatments and supplements. He is one of the most prominent figures in this movement.
Mercola claimed that COVID-19 vaccines are not as effective as marketed and has promoted treatments like ivermectin, a sentiment which was censored by major Big Tech platforms.
YouTube and other platforms were accused by mainstream outlets of allowing Covid-related misinformation to spread and responded by removing claims that contradict consensus by public health bodies. In October 2020, YouTube started removing “false” claims about Covid vaccines and, in September 2021, it expanded the policy to include “false” claims about all approved vaccines. Shortly after expanding the policy, YouTube removed Mercola's account and all of his videos.
Mercola's lawsuit notes that YouTube's terms of service give users a chance to review changes and voluntarily remove content that violates the terms of service.
“YouTube violated this provision when, on September 29, 2021, it de-platformed Mercola's channel and immediately denied Mercola further access to its account, including any opportunity to remove its own content, which includes more than 15 years' worth of professionally produced videos,” the suit states.
“YouTube's actions have denied Mercola continued access to the content it uploaded to YouTube in good faith per the terms of the Agreement.”
The lawsuit also notes that YouTube has a “three strikes” policy, allowing users to remove violating content before being permanently banned, the only exception to that policy being “severe abuse,” a threshold Mercola believes he did not meet.