Kentucky Senator Rand Paul has been suspended from YouTube for pushing disinformation about the effectiveness of masking against COVID-19. Paul recently released a video to his channel wherein he said “most of the masks you get over the counter don't work. They don't prevent infection.” The senator also said, “trying to shape human behavior isn't the same as following the actual science which tells us that cloth masks don't work.” The video violated a company policy on COVID disinformation that bars creators from saying masks are ineffective at preventing transmission of the disease. Paul received a strike on his channel for violating this rule. Since this is only his first strike, the punishment is merely that videos cannot be posted to his channel for one week. Rand took to Twitter to complain about the temporary restriction, saying the strike was “a badge of honor . . . leftwing cretins at YouTube banning me for 7 days for a video that quotes 2 peer reviewed articles saying cloth masks don’t work.”
YouTube is right to enforce this policy equally across the board and it shouldn’t matter that the violator here is a US senator. Twitter also ran into a similar issue this week, temporarily suspending the account of Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene for saying that the COVID vaccines are “failing.” There is no doubt that conservatives will view Paul and Greene as heroes for standing up to these social media companies, but the truth is that the consequences aren’t even that big of a deal. In a matter of weeks, they can start posting to their social media sites again. They can even be skeptical about the need for mask mandates and COVID restrictions more generally. They just can’t spread disinformation like they were doing. If allowed to go unchecked, their followers will trust their dumb takes over scientists and doctors whom they believe to be working for the liberal media. Because these elected officials are not doing their job keeping the American people safe, sites like YouTube and Twitter have to do it for them. These punitive actions shouldn’t even be necessary in the first place because elected leaders should know better, but sadly they appear to be necessary.
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