Viral conspiracy theory video tests companies' misinformation policies

Attempts to remove the video have further fueled conspiracy theories.

Thomas Tolstrup via Getty Images

A viral video peddling conspiracy theories about the coronavirus has become the latest flashpoint for social media platforms struggling to contain health misinformation.

The video, an almost 30-minute clip from a film known as “Plandemic Movie” or “Plandemic Documentary,” spreads debunked conspiracy theories about the coronavirus and features a discredited biologist who has for years been “lionized by the medical conspiracy community,” according to fact-checking organization Snopes.

“The roughly 26-minute ‘Plandemic Movie’ video claims to be an excerpt of a larger documentary to be released this summer and contains claims about the origins of the virus and how it spreads,” CNBC writes of the clip. “The video tries to argue that the coronavirus pandemic was created to make profits off vaccines. Among other claims that defy advice of medical experts, it suggests that sheltering in place harms consumers’ immune systems and that masks can make people sicker.”

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other platforms have begun removing the video, yet it appears the companies’ desire to quash it have also encouraged it to spread further. New copies and links to the clip continue to circulate on social media, some of which have racked up thousands of views on YouTube and Facebook. On Twitter, where, #Plandemic was a trending topic on Wednesday, the video’s removal has been met with cries of censorship and, in some cases, fueled further conspiracy theories about the reasons for its removal.

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and others have struggled to contain misinformation about the coronavirus even as the platforms attempt to elevate authoritative sources and implement stricter rules about health misinformation during the pandemic. Further complicating matters is the fact that companies like Facebook are operating at reduced capacity as many of their content moderators are unable to work.