YouTube cites ‘Covid misinformation policies’ in removal of Tory MP’s parliament speech

Written by Noa Hoffman on 14 April 2022 in News
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Christopher Chope laments ‘cancel culture’ after video of him talking in Commons about ‘Covid-19 vaccine damage’ is taken down from website

Credit: StockVault

Conservative MP Sir Christopher Chope has accused YouTube of engaging in “cancel culture” after the video platform blocked footage of the MP delivering a speech in the House of Commons under its Covid-19 misinformation policy.

A video of Chope giving a speech to move his private members’ bill on alleged “Covid-19 vaccine damage” in the House of Commons was uploaded to YouTube by a member of the public last year.

In the video, the MP for Christchurch states his bill “is about the tens of thousands for whom the harm caused by the vaccine was greater than the benefit”. 

“The specific focus of this bill is on the families of those who tragically died and those individuals who have suffered severe injury or life-changing conditions as a result of doing their public duty and being vaccinated,” Chope says. 

Vaccination has been scientifically proven to be the single most effective way to reduce the risk of death and severe illness from Covid-19. Unvaccinated people are 14 times more likely to die from the virus than those who have received a jab. 


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The MP told PublicTechnology sister publication PoliticsHome he was “very surprised” to later discover the footage had been removed for violating the streaming platform’s community guidelines. 

“An organisation is basically trying to close down debate on a very important issue, which has had serious consequences and continues to have serious consequences for many thousands of people,” Chope said.

A YouTube spokesperson said: “We can confirm that the video in question has been removed from YouTube in line with our Covid misinformation policies. Specifically, our policies prohibit content that suggests the Covid-19 vaccines cause death.”

Since the early days of the pandemic YouTube introduced a series of policies to remove “harmful Covid-19 medical misinformation”.

Included among them is misinformation relating to the treatment, prevention, diagnosis, and transmission of the virus, as well as potentially harmful claims about vaccines.

YouTube says its policies were informed by NHS and World Health Organisation guidance. 

Chope told PoliticsHome he has appealed YouTube’s decision to remove his speech on behalf of the individual who uploaded it. 

“That's basically gone into the long grass because there doesn't seem to be any objective way in which one can engage with YouTube and challenge a decision that they take that something is against their policies,” the MP said.

Chope said his experience with YouTube speaks to a wider issue of “cancel culture” in the UK. 

“There's a group of people who are in the heart of this cancel culture who think their opinions are so strong and mainstream that they shouldn't allow alternative viewpoints to be had,” he said.

Chope also said he refutes YouTube’s characterisation of his Commons speech as "misinformation".

“What I said was factually accurate,” the MP alleged. 

As a result of this experience with YouTube, Chope said that he will now look to improve the user experience of the “clunky” Parliament.tv website, where debates in the House of Commons are live-streamed and archived, so the public can easily access videos deemed inappropriate by social media companies. 

The MP also said he will try and “shame” YouTube into recognising its policies are “against the principle of free speech”.

 

About the author

Noa Hoffman is a reporter for PublicTechnology sister publication PoliticsHome, where this story first appeared. She tweets as @hoffman_noa.

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