YouTube removing videos disputing coronavirus health guidance

Controversy rises after TV station's video of doctors pulled from site

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Controversy over a video removed by YouTube highlights the challenges in preventing the spread of misinformation related to the coronavirus.

This week, the Alphabet-owned site removed a video of a press conference held by two doctors, Dan Erickson and Artin Massihi of Accelerated Urgent Care in Bakersfield, Calif., that had been posted by a local TV station.

Before its removal, the video had gone “viral.” The clip drew more than 5.4 million views, according to the TV station, KERO. Even billionaire Elon Musk, who tweeted in March that the “coronavirus panic is dumb," shared the video and wrote the doctors “make good points.”

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A YouTube spokesperson told DailyMail.com that the video had been flagged for violating its “Community Guidelines” because it “disputes the efficacy of local healthy authority recommended guidance on social distancing.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended social distancing and other guidelines for preventing the spread of the coronavirus, which health officials said can be carried by people showing mild or no symptoms.

A spokesperson for the website added that content that provides more context – educational, documentary, scientific or artistic – is not removed under the guidelines, DailyMail.com reported. The spokesperson said news coverage of the interview with added context had not been removed.

A woman interact with the YouTube app. on an iPhone . (iStock)

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“From the very beginning of the pandemic, we've had clear policies against COVID-19 misinformation and are committed to continue providing timely and helpful information at this critical time,” the spokesperson told DailyMail.com.

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki has said the website would remove anything goes “against World Health Organization recommendations,” according to the report.

The company’s guidelines are actually more nuanced. YouTube said it relies on both global and local health organizations for expertise, such as the CDC in the U.S.

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Whenever a video is flagged, it’s reviewed for violations of the site’s guidelines, according to YouTube.

YouTube has also recently added fact checks to search results in the U.S. on topics related to COVID-19. The company said the move was part of its efforts to “connect people with authoritative sources.” Rather than curating the fact checks, YouTube said it uses fact check articles published by eligible publishers, which appear on searches algorithmically.

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