Empowered by its accessibility and international popularity, Google’s YouTube has done more to proliferate the misfortune and plight of the coronavirus pandemic than most individual actors could muster alone.
This claim may not be quantifiable. But if in times of emergency and turmoil we choose to value principles of free and tolerant discussion, transparency and the merits of evidence, then YouTube’s decision to act as an omnipresent arbiter is not one with which Americans ought to agree.
The company’s obsession with remaining orthodox has led it to fixate on control. Its incessant desire to remain in the right judgment is, in fact, its fundamental flaw. All at the expense of only human life, the establishment’s narrative must maintain its preeminence.
Using the tool of censorship, YouTube has silenced voices who merely want to conduct a conversation, which could save lives.
YouTube’s “medical misinformation policies” forbid discussing a drug commonly known as ivermectin. Discovered by Andy Crump and Satoshi Ōmura in the late 1970s, this now widely used and cheaply produced drug helps treat tropical diseases caused by parasitic worms.
According to an academic paper published in the Proceedings of the Japan Academy of the Physical and Biological Sciences, ivermectin has “been used to successfully overcome several … human diseases and new uses for it are continually being found.”
Sharing company with penicillin and aspirin, ivermectin has earned itself a reputation of being a “wonder drug” that is argued to have one of the “greatest beneficial impact[s] on the health and wellbeing of Mankind,” according to Crump and Ōmura.
The drug is topically produced around the world, with no one enterprise maintaining a patent on production, allowing the drug to maintain its efficacy, accessibility and cost-effectiveness.
A Crisis Intensifying
When the coronavirus pandemic arrived on the scene, besetting the everyday lives of billions, health experts and regular people alike began searching for available treatments. Some physicians found success in treating patients with ivermectin.
One physician, Dr. Pierre Kory, ventured to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security on Dec. 8, 2020, to share critical information about a “highly effective protocol for preventing and early treatment of COVID-19.”
In his testimony, Kory shared 11 data points which indicate that ivermectin could be a potential solution to the global pandemic.
Despite the drug’s supposed efficacy, however, it received little attention — compared to hydroxychloroquine — from media outlets, health care agencies or notable public health officials.
In fact, the data was regarded as dangerous misinformation, which could harm the populous and indignify the public health establishment itself.
The establishment, for reasons yet undetermined, launched an informational counter-attack. With its well-funded agencies, its corporate resources and newly trained social police force, the merits of ivermectin were declared unimportant and ignorable.
On Dec. 11, 2020, two days after the Senate meeting, The Associated Press published an article titled, “No evidence ivermectin is a miracle drug against COVID-19.”
The 14 paragraph fact check — which assessed the claim that “ivermectin ‘has a miraculous effectiveness that obliterates’ the transmission of COVID-19” — argued that, in addition to hydroxychloroquine, there is no evidence that ivermectin works to treat or protect against the virus.
Of the two experts cited, both agreed that the research supporting ivermectin was anecdotal and could not prove its reliability on humans.
The studies are “a far cry from an in vitro lab replication to helping humans,” noted Dr. Nasia Safdar, the medical director of infection prevention at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Hospital.
In addition to those claims, the fact check appealed to the advice of the public health authorities, warning the general public to stay away from the drug, as it was not approved for the treatment of COVID-19.
The AP concluded its assessment of ivermectin by informing readers of a couple in Arizona who used chloroquine phosphate, an additive in hydroxychloroquine, to self-medicate from the virus.
“The woman became gravely ill and the man died,” the publication wrote.
For what reason is the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine discussed in a fact check about ivermectin? Who cares? This is about ivermectin.
The article’s glib tone reflects a sentiment that, even if you come across information that surprises or interests you, it is best to allow the fact-checkers to decide what is worth investigating. There is no mention of the clinical trial evidence for COVID-19.
The interests of the most powerful companies and governments in the world benefited from the production and distribution of a newly designed treatment and preventative. As early as 2018, the Trump administration had allocated public funds to research the development of new vaccine technology. When the pandemic hit, it was merely an adaptation of a plan that was already in place.
Google and Youtube’s shared medical misinformation policy tells users to not post any content that recommends the use of ivermectin for treatment or prevention for COVID-19, as it is a removable offense. This policy follows guidance from both local health authorities and the World Health Organization.
YouTube has silenced any voice — popular or reclusive — that has dared to speak the name of ivermectin on its platform in a positive light.
Dr. Kory’s testimony in the U.S. Senate was removed from YouTube, along with other videos from the chamber, according to Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson’s recent Op-Ed in The Wall Street Journal.
A few months later, ABC News reported that the senator was suspended from YouTube for violating the company’s policies about mentioning the drug.
According to a YouTube spokesperson, “We removed the video in accordance with our COVID-19 medical misinformation policies, which don’t allow content that encourages people to use Hydroxychloroquine or Ivermectin.”
After Johnson, other notable spokespeople for ivermectin encountered the ire of YouTube’s censors. Bret Weinstein and Heather Heying, a pair of biologists and hosts of the DarkHorse podcast, have dedicated multiple episodes of their multi-hour podcast to educate listeners on the merits of ivermectin, examining studies and speaking with guests.
The episodes which shed light on ivermectin got removed.
Episodes appearing with such guests as Kory, Dr. Robert W. Malone and Steve Kirsch have also been removed, despite affirming YouTube’s commitment to include context about evidence for and against the various methods of treatment.
My June 1st discussion with Dr. Pierre Kory of @Covid19Critical on the DarkHorse Podcast has been removed by @YouTube for allegedly violating their Community Guideline against "Spam, deceptive practices and scams". The channel was given a warning, the first step toward removal. pic.twitter.com/svISJEKjjt
— Bret Weinstein (@BretWeinstein) June 12, 2021
We've heard back and our team confirmed that your video violates our medical misinformation policies regarding COVID-19 for promoting Ivermectin as an effective treatment. More info here: https://t.co/cyXG7zUd1M
— TeamYouTube (@TeamYouTube) June 12, 2021
In this tweet YouTube is spreading deadly misinformation. It is creating the false impression that Ivermectin is ineffective against COVID. The evidence is discussed in the video. If there is disagreement on the evidence discussion is required. #FollowTheSilence #CensorshipKills https://t.co/uF7BjZ3tRP
— Bret Weinstein (@BretWeinstein) June 12, 2021
This censorship is unnecessary and proliferates mental indigence among the general public that enfeebles its capacity to resolve for itself. People must be equipped, enlightened and informed to make their own judgments about treatment.
A free society does not exist in this circumstance.
But this battle is not one that the people shall entitle the government to fight. The current situation is one in which big business and big government share interests and will go to lengths to manufacture and distribute a narrative that benefits those interests — which do not usually align with the interests of the American people as a whole.
As Weinstein has noted, if ivermectin was deployed to treat and prevent COVID-19 topically, it would give society an additional cushion to reach herd immunity. At the very least, expert discussion about potentially life-saving technologies should not be removed.
For what reason was ivermectin shelved, its supporters shunned?
According to the Food and Drug Administration’s emergency use authorization, “as demonstrated by the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. government has coalesced government agencies, international counterparts, academia, nonprofit organizations and pharmaceutical companies to develop a coordinated strategy for prioritizing and speeding development of the most promising vaccines.”
The only means by which the emergency use authorization could be accomplished was if “there are no adequate, approved, and available alternatives.”
If ivermectin would have been examined as an effective alternative, there is a possibility that novel vaccines may not have been manufactured. While ivermectin sits unpatentable, the establishment’s set of financial interests led them to pursue vaccine production — and those interests are worth protecting.
YouTube is spreading misinformation. Its role as information arbiter is nothing more than an attempt to act paternalistically — and it is costing lives.