- YouTube suspended US Senator Rand Paul for a week over videos in which he questioned the efficacy of masks.
- In two videos, Paul claimed that surgical and cloth masks are ineffective against Covid-19.
- Paul called his suspension "dangerous, incredibly anti-free speech, and truly anti-progress of science."
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YouTube has suspended US GOP Senator Rand Paul for seven days for posting videos in which he questioned the efficacy of cloth and surgical masks against Covid-19, contradicting official public health guidance.
YouTube first restricted a clip of a July 22 interview Paul gave to Newsmax discussing masks and the coronavirus pandemic. So Paul shared it on the video platform, Rumble.
He also posted a 3-minute video calling out YouTube for "censoring" that video. His second clip was also removed and resulted in Paul being restricted from posting on the platform for a week.
Paul claimed in the second video that "most of the masks you get over the counter don't work" and "don't prevent infection," arguing that "saying cloth masks work, when they don't, actually risks lives, as someone may choose to care for a loved one with Covid while only wearing a cloth mask."
YouTube confirmed that the videos had earned Paul a "first strike" in the form of a weeklong suspension. "This resulted in a first strike on the channel, which means it can't upload content for a week, per our longstanding three strikes policy," a spokesperson for YouTube told CNN Business. "We apply our policies consistently across the platform, regardless of speaker or political views, and we make exceptions for videos that have additional context such as countervailing views from local health authorities."
In a tweet, Paul described his suspension as a "badge of honor," and called YouTube "leftwing cretins."
"I think this kind of censorship is very dangerous, incredibly anti-free speech, and truly anti-progress of science, which involves scepticism and argumentation to arrive at the truth," he said in a Tuesday statement.
"As a libertarian leaning Senator, I think private companies have the right to ban me if they want to, so in this case I'll just channel that frustration into ensuring the public knows YouTube is acting as an arm of government and censoring their users for contradicting the government," Paul went on to say.
Paul, who has argued that he doesn't need to get vaccinated or wear a mask because he has immunity from a previous Covid-19 infection, has frequently tangled with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the US's top infectious disease expert, over the efficacy of masks and vaccines in Senate hearings.
The Kentucky senator isn't the only GOP lawmaker to clash with social media companies over Covid-19 information.
Twitter recently suspended Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia for tweets inaccurately claiming the Covid-19 vaccines are "failing."