Digital rights groups and internet users have warned that many of the changes that are being ushered in as a response to the coronavirus are infringing on people’s civil liberties.
And now YouTube has set a new chilling precedent in this area by removing a popular interview with author and public speaker David Icke from the London Real YouTube channel which was titled “DAVID ICKE – THE CORONAVIRUS CONSPIRACY: HOW COVID-19 WILL SEIZE YOUR RIGHTS & DESTROY OUR ECONOMY”
London Real produces in-depth interviews with a diverse range of guests and Icke has been on the show multiple times.
His last interview with London Real on March 18 is currently the channel’s most popular video with 4.9 million views.
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The video that YouTube removed was on track to reach similar levels of popularity and had amassed 339,000 total views and 64,000 peak concurrent live viewers, despite being online for just 30 minutes before it was deleted.
London Real’s founder and host Brian Rose added that a one hour version of the video was subsequently uploaded but that too was deleted after accumulating 50,000 views.
YouTube said the video was deleted as part of a newly introduced rule where: “Any content that disputes the existence or transmission of Covid-19, as described by the WHO [World Health Organization] and local health authorities is in violation of YouTube policies. This includes conspiracy theories which claim that the symptoms are caused by 5G.”
Ironically, the WHO, which is now being used as the gold standard of truth when it comes to claims about the transmission of the coronavirus on YouTube, has previously amplified Chinese propaganda about there being “no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel coronavirus.”
Preliminary investigations conducted by the Chinese authorities have found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel #coronavirus (2019-nCoV) identified in #Wuhan, #China🇨🇳. pic.twitter.com/Fnl5P877VG
— World Health Organization (WHO) (@WHO) January 14, 2020
Research has shown that China’s attempts to downplay and deflect blame for the coronavirus instead of introducing early preventative measures has had serious consequences when it comes to the spread of the disease.
A study at the University of Southampton predicted that if China had introduced measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus three weeks earlier, there could have been a 95% reduction in global coronavirus cases.
Terrible. We desperately need accurate reporting from China. The pandemic originated in Wuhan & was initially covered up by Chinese authorities. University of Southampton study found there would have been a 95% REDUCTION in cases & less spread if Beijing intervened 3 wks sooner. https://t.co/YJRCxYH5Sa
— Jonathan Swan (@jonathanvswan) March 18, 2020
Under YouTube’s new rule, it appears that misinformation from health authorities such as the WHO will go unpunished while opinions about the coronavirus from others will be slapped down.
After YouTube removed the David Icke interview, video-sharing platform Vimeo also deleted the video from its platform.
Explosive David Icke coronavirus video now deleted by Vimeo as well as YouTube. What don't they want you to know? Watch here and please share with everyone you know and ask them to do the same https://t.co/zFiKFf5Vak pic.twitter.com/cpG852ITAF
— David Icke (@davidicke) April 7, 2020
London Real’s founder and host Brian Rose slammed the takedown of the David Icke interview in a series of YouTube videos.
“I don’t believe everything that David says, I don’t agree with everything he says but I will defend his right to say it to the death,” Rose said. “We should allow people to speak their minds period, period. When we shut that down, we’ve got a massive problem with who we are, who we think we are, or who we tell our kids that we are.”
Rose added the popularity of the video clearly shows that “people want this content” and pointed to UK media watchdog The Office of Communications‘ (OFCOM) recent threats to British media about mentioning links between 5G and the coronavirus.
Additionally, he said that his entire business relies on YouTube and that if London Real gets taken off YouTube, “it will not exist anymore.”
Rose was also critical of YouTube, a platform he has worked with for more than eight years, for talking to the press without giving London Real any explanation about why the video was removed.
“You tell the BBC you’re going to take my video off and why but you don’t tell me,” Rose said. “I still don’t know why.”
The ban on content that disputes the existence or transmission of the coronavirus as described by health authorities sets a worrying precedent as these health authorities have been shown to get many things wrong about the coronavirus including information on the effectiveness of masks and the dangers of the coronavirus.
Not only does this mean misinformation from these health authorities is amplified but it’s also creating a two-class system where independent creators and small businesses are suppressed while legacy media outlets and health authorities get preferential treatment, even if they’re spreading information that is later discovered to be incorrect or harmful.