United States Senator Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) was suspended from the video social media site YouTube on Tuesday after he uploaded a video of himself disseminating false and misleading information about the coronavirus pandemic.
Paul falsely claimed masks that people buy “over the counter don’t work” to prevent the spread of COVID-19. He also said that health advocates who were pushing for people to take preventative measures against the virus were “trying to shape human behavior,” and advocated for people to disregard their advice.
“They can’t arrest all of us. They can’t keep all of your kids home from school,” Paul said, encouraging his viewers to violate standards aimed at limiting the spread of coronavirus.
While some studies have shown certain types of masks may offer different levels of protection, the overwhelming body of evidence has demonstrated that masks in general are helpful in preventing the spread of the virus.
On Twitter, where he is not suspended currently, Paul said he was delighted by the action YouTube took, calling those at the company “leftwing cretins” and saying it was a “badge of honor” for him.
A spokesperson from YouTube said that Paul’s suspension had nothing to do with his politics.
“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,” that spokesperson said.
Paul — an ophthalmologist prior to getting into politics who withdrew from the American Board of Ophthalmology to declare himself self-certified — has frequently peddled false or misleading ideas on coronavirus. He has frequently clashed with infectious diseases experts, including White House public health adviser Anthony Fauci, over ways to prevent the spread of COVID. While grilling Fauci over the origins of the virus in July, Paul accused the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director of lying before Congress.
“I totally resent that, and if anyone is lying here, senator, it is you,” Fauci retorted.
In June, Paul also wrongly asserted that those who had already been infected with coronavirus did not need to get vaccinated, claiming that they already had the antibodies necessary to be protected against it. A newly released study, examining hundreds of patients from Paul’s home state of Kentucky, debunked that notion, noting that those who had COVID in the past but weren’t vaccinated were 2.34 times more likely to become reinfected compared to those who did get the vaccines after having previously had the virus in their systems.
YouTube’s decision to temporarily restrict Paul from their platform is the second major suspension of a Republican from a social media site this week for spreading false information regarding COVID. On Monday, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Georgia) was suspended from Twitter for a full seven days after she had tweeted, wrongly, that vaccines weren’t working and causing people to die.
In truth, fact checks have shown that the vaccines aren’t harmful, and that her claims of people dying are an incredible misinterpretation of data. Additionally, evidence suggests that the vaccines do appear to be working: in places where vaccination rates are higher, there are lower rates of positive coronavirus test results.