Last September, YouTube announced it would ban videos containing "content that poses a serious risk of egregious harm by spreading medical misinformation." It is unclear how a company known for software technology has suddenly acquired the medical expertise required to make such determinations, but they have been joined in this strategy by other tech companies like Facebook and Twitter.
Shannon Carter, a news editor at the Cal State Northridge "Sundial", penned an excellent piece discussing the issues and dangers these moves raise.
This censorship regime under the guise of the coronavirus is beyond troubling and sets a precedent that I don’t think any of us are ready for.
Let me be clear, I am not saying misinformation is good. I am saying that censorship is bad because who is the gatekeeper that determines what is right and what is wrong information? And will they keep the public’s best interest in mind without political or financial bias?
Indeed, the negative effects on public discourse are readily evident:
A video from a recent Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs meeting featuring Peter Doshi, an associate professor of pharmaceutical health services research at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy, was removed by YouTube because Doshi was accused of spreading medical misinformation.
Doshi, the senior editor at the British Medical Journal, whose research focuses on the drug approval process, spoke before the committee and criticized vaccine mandates, the efficacy of the vaccines and called for cautionary use of experimental vaccines. Doshi’s testimony was not persuasive but rather the opposite, as it attempted to pose thought-provoking questions.
Within days, the discussion that occurred on Capitol Hill was blocked by YouTube.
This is just one of many examples of legitimate, truthful information and debate being withheld from the public.
It wasn’t until May 2021 that Facebook stopped banning posts about the possibility that COVID-19 escaped from a lab. This comes more than a year after the idea was prematurely debunked.
As former New York Times writer Bari Weiss put it, “How have we accepted a reality in which Big Tech can carry out the digital equivalent of book burnings? And why is it that so few people are speaking up against the status quo?”