(Reuters) – Facebook Inc and YouTube, the video service of Alphabet Inc’s Google, said on Thursday that they were removing a video that made medically unsubstantiated claims relating to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The 26-minute video dubbed “Plandemic” went viral this week across social media platforms. It features Judy Mikovits, an activist among people who contend that many common vaccines are dangerous.
Mikovits says in the video that wearing masks activates the coronavirus within people, without providing evidence, and criticizes orders to stay away from beaches.
“Suggesting that wearing a mask can make you sick could lead to imminent harm, so we’re removing the video,” Facebook said.
Mikovits could not be reached for comment, while producers of the video did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
In the video, Mikovits also describes the coronavirus as a conspiracy among people trying to profit from vaccines and raises concerns about vaccines. She says anyone who has ever received a flu vaccine had a coronavirus injected into them, without providing substantiation.
COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, emerged in late 2019 and there is no known vaccine and or cure for it. Vaccines are available for seasonal flu, which is caused by a separate virus.
YouTube said it was working to keep the video off its service in accordance with its rules against “content that includes medically unsubstantiated diagnostic advice” about the coronavirus and the related respiratory illness COVID-19.
But late on Thursday, slightly edited copies of the original video remained available on YouTube.
Twitter Inc said it had blocked users from using the hashtags #PlagueOfCorruption and #Plandemicmovie, but said that content in a shorter clip posted on its service did not violate its policy against COVID-19 misinformation.
The companies have been under pressure from the World Health Organization and other health authorities around the world to police harmful content and misinformation about the pandemic.
While the companies have dedicated workers to address the challenge, misinformation continues to flow, including from groups growing frustrated with business closures and stay-at-home orders and taking to social media to argue against them.
(Reporting by Elizabeth Culliford; Additional reporting by Paresh Dave; editing by Grant McCool)