YouTube censors Brazilian president’s videos over Covid misinformation concerns

YouTube has censored Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s channel, removing 15 videos from public view on Wednesday for violating the company’s content policies by spreading misinformation about Covid-19.

The YouTube channel features regular videos of national addresses, as well as conversations with ministers, former officials, and medical professionals, with the president personally having expressed his critical views of lockdowns, mask wearing, and vaccination programs.

One of the videos removed by YouTube featured the country’s former health minister, Eduardo Pazuello, comparing Covid-19 to Aids, declaring that “Post-HIV pandemic, HIV continues to exist. There are still some who are contaminated, most are treated, and life goes on.”

Another censored post concerned a doctor who recommended that Covid patients be given hydroxychloroquine, a treatment that has not been independently proven to be effective against the disease.

The tech company confirmed that the decision had been taken to remove the videos due to a violation of its content policies, rather than for a political or ideological disagreement with the Brazilian leader.

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YouTube has a strict policy of prohibiting videos that promote the use of hydroxychloroquine as a Covid treatment, as well as content that claims masks are not an effective way of reducing the spread of the virus.

Bolsonaro and his office have not yet released a statement on the removal of the videos, but his official Twitter account did post a message urging followers to join him on Telegram to receive daily information directly.

Brazil has been one of the worst-hit countries globally by Covid, reporting 19.3 million cases of the virus, the third-highest total of any country, as well as 542,756 deaths from the disease. In April, the Brazilian legislature launched an inquiry into the government’s handling of the Covid pandemic, including Bolsonaro’s response.

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