Covid-19 conspiracy videos warning against facemasks and vaccination removed by Youtube after Press Gazette investigation

Covid-19 conspiracy videos are rife on Youtube

Youtube has broadcast conspiratorial warnings against public health guidelines on face masks to millions of users, a Press Gazette investigation has found.

One of the Covid-19 conspiracy videos – which suggests that official advice to wear masks is part of an “agenda to make people weaker, to make people more susceptible” to health problems – remains live, with the content monetised by adverts from respectable companies and other organisations.

Press Gazette brought four videos, each containing warnings against face masks and vaccinations, to the attention of Youtube on Monday, 11 May. Two have been removed at the time of writing.

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The warnings, which go largely unchallenged, are at odds with the latest guidance from bodies like the World Health Organization (WHO), the UK Government and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US.

Two of the videos featured interviews with Judy Mikovits, the star of a widely circulated documentary called “Plandemic”, which makes a series of claims about coronavirus that are not supported by respected scientific and medical organisations.

Several publications have reported that Youtube and other social media platforms are racing to tackle the outbreak of this video, which suggests that Covid-19 is not naturally-occurring, that masks and gloves make people more sick, and that beaches should remain open so people can access “healing microbes” in the water.

But Press Gazette found several separate video interviews with Mikovits on Youtube in which she is presented as an expert and goes largely unchallenged.

In one video, which was uploaded on 5 April and removed shortly after Press Gazette brought it to the attention of Youtube  on 11 May, she claims:

  • “Coronavirus is not more than a severe cough and it’s totally implausible that it’s passing from human to human by healthy humans coughing.”
  • “The epidemic or pandemic is being misrepresented as if viruses float through the air. Viruses don’t float through the air. They don’t live on surfaces, especially coronaviruses, you know, much more than an hour. We are being told wipe down your groceries – this is ridiculous. We have immune systems made by God, and unless we’ve been severely vaccine-injured and crippled by the toxins in our environment, we won’t have severe disease.”
  • Those who have become ill from coronavirus are likely to have done so because they have had flu vaccinations – the “vaccine-injured”. “This virus didn’t spread to 110 countries from a seafood market in China starting December whatever they told us of 2019. It’s plausible, it’s probable, that it’s been in every flu vaccine since 13-15 as that’s when this work was being illegally done”
  • Wearing protective masks can “activate these viruses”.

Mikovits made a series of similar claims in another Youtube interview that was uploaded on 4 May and viewed 1.6m times before being removed following Press Gazette’s query to Youtube.

The two other videos brought to Youtube’s attention remain live at the time of writing.

In the first, Dr Rashid Buttar suggests that people’s immune systems are being damaged by orders to stay home and that advice for people to wear face masks is part of an “agenda to make people weaker, to make them more susceptible”. He later adds that when wearing a mask “you’re actually stressing the body out and increasing the viral activation, if you will”.

The video does feature a brief disclaimer at the beginning stating that the uploader, Forever Inspired, “is not responsible and does not verify the accuracy of the information shown here. The premier purpose of this channel is to educate and inform. This channel does not constitute medical or other professional advice.”

This video, uploaded on 7 May and viewed more than 85,000 times, featured adverts when viewed by Press Gazette. Amazon and conservation group 8 Billion Trees were among the brands to be featured alongside this content (see below). These adverts will be automated, and so it is unlikely advertisers know their content has featured here.

After this article was published, 8 Billion Trees, an organisation that fights man-made climate change and deforestation, contacted Youtube to ask that its advertising no longer appear alongside this sort of content.

Founder Jon Chambers told Press Gazette:  “To be clear, 8 Billion Trees is in no way affiliated with the video and we have notified our team to address this issue with Youtube and see what we can do to avoid something like this in the future.”

This video was an excerpt from a two-hour interview Buttar did with Valuetainment, a verified Youtube account with 2.3m subscribers. The full interview, which features several warnings about people taking vaccines, has been live since 28 April and viewed 1.6m times.

Press Gazette last week highlighted a series of conspiratorial videos – many of which featured unchallenged and unfounded theories about Covid-19 either not existing or being caused by 5G – that had been viewed on the website millions of times. 

Buttar also featured in this story for a video in which he called for the “execution” of mainstream media, “taking out those bastards that have lied and lied and lied”. The YouTube channel boss who broadcast this said the guest was being metaphorical.

Much of the content, which included a 45-minute interview with notorious conspiracist David Icke that had been live for more than a month and viewed more than 6m times, were subsequently made unavailable on the website.

Youtube, which claims to have removed thousands of Covid-19 videos judged to be dangerous or misleading since early February, did not respond to requests for comment sent on Monday and Tuesday.

Covid-19 conspiracy video theories and official guidance

The WHO recommends that, if you are healthy, you only need to wear a mask when taking care of a person with Covid-19. It recommends the use of a mask to people who are coughing and sneezing.

In the UK, new Government advice this week stated that face coverings “can help us protect each other and reduce the spread of the disease if you are in an enclosed space where social distancing isn’t possible and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet. This is most relevant for short periods indoors in crowded areas, for example on public transport or in some shops.”

In the US, the CDC guidance says:

We now know from recent studies that a significant portion of individuals with coronavirus lack symptoms (“asymptomatic”) and that even those who eventually develop symptoms (“pre-symptomatic”) can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms.  This means that the virus can spread between people interacting in close proximity—for example, speaking, coughing, or sneezing—even if those people are not exhibiting symptoms.  In light of this new evidence, CDC recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain (e.g., grocery stores and pharmacies) especially in areas of significant community-based transmission.

Picture: Kirsty O’Connor/PA Wire

This article was updated on 15 May when 8 Billion Trees contacted Press Gazette to make clear that it did not condone its adverts appearing alongside this content. The organisation has contacted Youtube to request that this should not happen again.

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