Another day and another Republican lawmaker is facing consequences for spreading COVID-19 misinformation on a social media platform.
On Tuesday, YouTube suspended the account of Senator Rand Paul, a Republican from Kentucky, for seven days after he posted a video claiming, “Most of the masks you get over the counter don’t work. They don’t prevent infection.”
Rand, a dogged COVID-19 skeptic, was apparently referring to cloth masks. While they fall short of the protection offered by N95 respirators, which are common in hospitals, they are still considered an important tool in fighting the pandemic. The New York Times explains, citing Dr. John Brooks, chief medical officer of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Covid-19 response program:
The average person… can be protected with a well-made cloth covering, Dr. Brooks said. The best cloth face coverings, which have multiple layers that can trap viral particles — the thickest are mostly impervious to light — are as effective as surgical masks in some circumstances.
Cloth masks are also reusable and durable, and even after regular washings, they maintain their effectiveness. N95s and surgical masks are usually worn once and “end up in a landfill,” Dr. Brooks said.
YouTube prohibits content that contains misinformation, including “claims that masks do not play a role in preventing the contraction or transmission of Covid-19.”
The social media site issued a statement following Rand’s temporary ban, saying “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.”
Rand called the reprimand a “badge of honor” and criticized the “left-wing cretins at YouTube.”
“I think this kind of censorship is very dangerous, incredibly anti-free speech and truly anti-progress of science, which involves skepticism and argumentation to arrive at the truth,” he said.
If Rand commits additional infractions, he faces a permanent expulsion from the video-sharing site.
Earlier this week, Twitter took action against another conservative contrarian. On Monday, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene tweeted that vaccines are “failing.” For that obviously misleading statement (compare the hospitalization numbers of the vaccinated and the unvaccinated), the Georgia Congresswoman was suspended from Twitter for a week.