Google CEO Sundar Pichai has defended the takedown of numerous videos of doctors sharing their opinions on the coronavirus from Google-owned video sharing platform YouTube.
During a House Judiciary Committee Hearing on antitrust law with Big Tech CEOs, Congressman Greg Steube said that in two separate instances he’d been sent YouTube links to videos featuring doctors sharing their opinion that the drug hydroxychloroquine is effective for the treatment of the coronavirus and that it’s appropriate for children to return back to school.
However, when Steube attempted to open the links and view the videos, he said the videos had been taken down for violating YouTube’s community guidelines.
Steube asked Pichai how doctors giving their opinion on a drug that they think is effective for the treatment of COVID-19 or sharing their opinion on it being appropriate for children to return to school violates YouTube’s community guidelines.
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Pichai responded by insisting that Google believes in freedom of expression and that there’s a lot of debate on YouTube about effective ways to deal with the coronavirus but that during the pandemic, if a doctor’s advice conflicts with the guidance from local health authorities on medical misinformation, YouTube will take it down.
“We look to local health authorities, so for example, in the US it would be CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention], for guidelines around medical misinformation in a narrow way which could cause harm in the real world,” Pichai said.
Steube challenged Pichai and said that the doctor’s comments on YouTube are free expression of speech:
“I don’t understand why YouTube and therefore Google thinks it’s appropriate to silence physicians and their opinion of what can help then cure people with COVID-19.”
Steube didn’t cite the specific videos he was referring to but numerous videos from doctors have been removed by YouTube amid the coronavirus pandemic this year including a press conference from America’s Frontline Doctors, an anti-lockdown video from doctors, and the Dr. Judy Mikovits Plandemic documentary.
While there is often debate over the most effective treatment options in the field of medicine, Google and other tech giants are aggressively enforcing their policy of censoring anything that goes against the advice of local health authorities such as the CDC.
Pichai’s statements are the latest of several that have reaffirmed YouTube’s position of relying on health authorities such as the CDC and the World Health Organization (WHO) instead of the merits or qualifications of the person producing the video.
Some of these health authorities that are being used by the tech giants as arbiters of truth have infamously changed their recommendations and contradicted their own previous advice on the coronavirus. For example, the CDC went from recommending people don’t wear masks to calling for people to wear masks.
Not only are the recommendations of these health authorities being used to decide which videos go down but YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki has also stated that news coverage determines whether videos from doctors get reinstated.
Wojcicki justified this policy by stating that news coverage provides “context” that can then lead to the video being reinstated.