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YouTube reverses censorship of Chicago school board meeting about mask-wearing after backlash

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YouTube took down a video of an official suburban Chicago school board meeting after saying that it was disseminating false information about COVID-19. However, the video’s removal was only temporary as YouTube backtracked on the censorship after backlash. A school board member claimed it’s unclear why YouTube took it down in the first place.

The video of the Tuesday Johnsburg School District 12 Board meeting was reposted on Friday after YouTube pulled it down. According to the Northwest Herald, YouTube highlighted an exception to its standards governing when videos should be deleted.

Many citizens were asking District 12 officials to make mask wearing optional for students, regardless of COVID vaccination status.

Before the video was restored on Friday, District 12 school board member Steve Link said that they should have given more explanation as to why they pulled it down. He further added that he believed it was unjust that people who couldn’t attend a meeting didn’t have the chance to see it after it was removed.

According to YouTube, videos that violate its community rules are removed “using a combination of machine learning algorithms and human assessors to identify and evaluate content.”

In an email, a YouTube spokesperson said that they’re restoring the Johnsburg School District’s video after additional evaluation.

“Upon further review, we’re reinstating the Johnsburg School District’s video,” YouTube said. “We have policies in place to allow content that might otherwise violate our policies as long as it includes educational, documentary, scientific or artistic (EDSA) context. In line with our EDSA policies, the video is available again on YouTube.”

According to Link, the board was not informed of what was said or displayed on the meeting video which YouTube first considered to be in breach of its standards.

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