The Slatest

YouTube Suspends GOP Sen. Johnson for Promoting Unproven COVID-19 Treatments

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) speaks at a news conference with Republican senators to discuss the origins of COVID-19 on June 10, 2021 in Washington, D.C.
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) speaks at a news conference with Republican senators to discuss the origins of COVID-19 on June 10, 2021 in Washington, D.C. Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

YouTube suspended Sen. Ron Johnson’s account for one week after he violated the website’s policy on medical misinformation by posting a video that promoted unproven treatments for COVID-19. The Republican from Wisconsin posted a video of a virtual event that was hosted by the Milwaukee Press Club in which he touted hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin as treatments for the coronavirus. “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 to treat or prevent the virus,” a YouTube spokesperson said in a statement.

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In the video of the June 3 appearance, Johnson criticized both former President Donald Trump and President Joe Biden for “not only ignoring but working against robust research” on how “cheap, generic drugs” can be “repurposed for early treatment of COVID.” Under YouTube’s policy, people can’t post videos that contradicts local health authorities or the World Health Organization regarding COVID-19.

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Johnson harshly criticized YouTube for the suspension that came at a time when many Republicans have claimed that tech companies are censoring conservative voices. “YouTube’s ongoing COVID censorship proves they have accumulated too much unaccountable power,” he said in a statement. “Big Tech and mainstream media believe they are smarter than medical doctors who have devoted their lives to science and use their skills to save lives. They have decided there is only one medical viewpoint allowed and it is the viewpoint dictated by government agencies.”

Corri Hess, the president of the Milwaukee Press Club at first sent a tweet Friday afternoon saying that the “on the record event with journalists” was going to remain on the group’s YouTube page. Shortly thereafter, she sent another tweet saying YouTube had deleted the video. Johnson, who tested positive for the coronavirus in October, has been touting unproven COVID-19 treatments for months. He has also been fond of spreading anti-vaccine misinformation.

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