CORONAVIRUS conspiracies have spread almost as fast as the virus, in part due to their popularity on social media. Now YouTube has banned all conspiracy theory videos bizarrely linking coronavirus symptoms to 5G networks.
YouTube has moved to delete any coronavirus conspiracy videos violating the Google-owned service’s policies. The video sharing platform had attracted criticism to previously only limited itself to reducing the frequency it recommended them in its Up Next section.
YouTube’s latest move follows a live-streamed interview with notorious conspiracy theorist David Icke yesterday.
Mr Icke used his appearance to linked 5G technology to the coronavirus pandemic.
During the interview, which YouTube said would be wiped, Mr Icke falsely claimed there “is a link between 5G and this health crisis”.
When asked for his reaction to reports of 5G masts being set on fire in England, he added: “If 5G continues and reaches where they want to take it, human life as we know it is over … so people have to make a decision.”
Statins FAKE NEWS is ‘killing the elderly’, claims top scientist
Several users subsequently called for further attacks on 5G towers in the comments appearing alongside the feed.
Mr Icke also falsely claimed a coronavirus vaccine, when one is developed, will include “nanotechnology microchips” allowing humans to be controlled.
The discredited conspiracy theory added Microsoft founder Bill Gates – who is helping fund Covid-19 vaccine research – should be jailed.
His highly controversial views went unchallenged for much of the two-and-a-half-hour show.
The bombshell interview was viewed by approximately 65,000 people as it was streamed.
Some of these viewers tapped an on-screen button to trigger payments to make their live chat reactions more prominent.
YouTube only deleted the content after the session had ended, despite the site being aware of the broadcast while it was underway.
A spokeswoman for YouTube told the BBC: “We have clear policies that prohibit videos promoting medically unsubstantiated methods to prevent the coronavirus in place of seeking medical treatment, and we quickly remove videos violating these policies when flagged to us.
“Now any content that disputes the existence or transmission of COVID-19, as described by the WHO [World Health Organization] and local health authorities is in violation of YouTube policies.
“This includes conspiracy theories which claim that the symptoms are caused by 5G.
“For borderline content that could misinform users in harmful ways, we reduce recommendations.
“We’ll continue to evaluate the impact of these videos on communities around the world.”
Users who repeatedly break the rules now face being prevented from being able to use YouTube’s Live tool.
YouTube may also prevent repeat offenders from earning money and added it would terminate channels as a last resort.
In this case, YouTube is allowing the interview’s host to keep earnings generated via the Super Chats tool while the video was still online.
However, YouTube is donating its own cut of the proceeds to charity and has put the channel responsible for the David Icke interview under review.