Politics

YouTube suspends Sen. Ron Johnson for posting video about dubious COVID-19 treatments

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican, questions Chad Wolf, acting Secretary of Homeland Security, during the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee hearing on Aug. 6, 2020, in Washington D.C. (Toni Sandys-Pool/Getty Images)

(CNN) — YouTube suspended GOP Sen. Ron Johnson’s account on Friday after he posted comments regarding dubious treatments for COVID-19.

“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 to CNN.

Johnson’s spokeswoman Alexa Henning told CNN that Johnson’s account will be suspended for a week and that the video posted on his account was from a virtual event hosted by the Milwaukee Press Club.

For months, Johnson — who tested positive for coronavirus last fall — has spread anti-vaccine misinformation and downplayed the urgency of vaccinating all Americans against Covid-19, putting the controversial Wisconsin Republican at odds with public health guidance aimed at easing the ongoing pandemic. The two-term senator, who’s facing reelection next year, has also downplayed the seriousness of the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6.

YouTube doesn’t allow medical misinformation about COVID-19, including anything that recommends use of ivermectin or hydroxychloroquine for the treatment or prevention of COVID-19, according to the company.

In July 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration revoked an emergency use authorization for hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine to treat COVID-19. The agency now says hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine have not been shown to be safe and effective for treating or preventing COVID-19.

Johnson expressed anger toward YouTube for its decision to suspend his account.

“They have decided there is only one medical viewpoint allowed and it is the viewpoint dictated by government agencies,” Johnson said in a statement to CNN. “YouTube’s ongoing COVID censorship proves they have accumulated too much unaccountable power. 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.”

Henning, Johnson’s spokeswoman, said that a full video of the event posted by the press club remained on YouTube until Friday evening, when it was also removed with a message saying it had violated YouTube’s community guidelines.

Corri Hess, the Milwaukee Press Club president, also tweeted the video remained up on their page and then updated later in a tweet the video was removed by YouTube.

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