YouTube bans Covid-19 conspiracy videos

Posted on: April 8, 2020 by Claire Meadows

YouTube has banned all conspiracy theory videos falsely linking coronavirus symptoms to 5G networks, it has announced.

The move comes after a live-streamed interview with conspiracy theorist David Icke on Monday, saw him link the technology to the pandemic. The interview was watched by about 65,000 people as it was streamed.

The purported link between 5G and Covid-19 symptoms has seen the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport forced to debunk the false association between the two and reiterate its call for social media companies to do more to stop the dissemination of misinformation on their platforms. The supposed link with 5G has also seen at least 20 UK phone masts vandalised over false 5G coronavirus claims.

In light of the spread of misinformation on social media platforms, Julian Knight MP, chair of the DCMS select committee has also called on the public to flag up misinformation as part of the committee’s focus on targeting online harms.

During Monday’s Youtube interview, Mr Icke claimed there “is a link between 5G and this health crisis”. When asked for his reaction to reports of 5G masts being set on fire in England and Northern Ireland, he responded: “If 5G continues and reaches where they want to take it, human life as we know it is over… so people have to make a decision.”

Several users subsequently called for further attacks on 5G towers in the comments that appeared alongside the feed.

Youtube confirmed to the BBC that the video had since been deleted and that similar videos would also be removed from its platform.

A spokesman for Youtube told the BBC: “We have clear policies that prohibit videos promoting medically unsubstantiated methods to prevent the coronavirus in place of seeking medical treatment, and we quickly remove videos violating these policies when flagged to us.

“Now 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.”

“For borderline content that could misinform users in harmful ways, we reduce recommendations. We’ll continue to evaluate the impact of these videos on communities around the world.”