YouTube suspends Rand Paul for a week over COVID-19 misinformation

The senator questioned the effectiveness of cloth masks in a now-deleted video.

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UNITED STATES - AUGUST 04: Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., is seen in Hart Building on Wednesday, August 04, 2021. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
Tom Williams via Getty Images

YouTube has suspended Sen. Rand Paul from the platform after he claimed in a video that "cloth masks don't work" with regard to the spread of COVID-19. It marked the second time YouTube has removed one of Paul's videos.

Paul violated YouTube's policy on coronavirus medical misinformation, a company spokesperson told The New York Times. YouTube prohibits videos containing "claims that masks do not play a role in preventing the contraction or transmission of COVID-19.” Paul won't be able to upload videos to the platform for seven days.

“Most of the masks you get over the counter don’t work. They don’t prevent infection,” Paul said in the now-deleted video. Paul also cited "actual science" while claiming cloth masks don't work. However, he noted that N-95 masks are effective in protecting against COVID-19 infection.

Public health experts say masks work in tandem with other preventative measures such as vaccinations and washing hands frequently to stem the spread of COVID-19. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that members of the general public should use masks made with breathable fabric.

Paul acknowledged in a statement that YouTube, as a private company, had the right to suspend him. However, he argued that the decision marked “a continuation of their commitment to act in lockstep with the government.”

YouTube has yanked tens of thousands of videos that made erroneous claims about COVID-19 vaccines, and it suspended Sky News Australia and OANN for spreading misinformation. YouTube has also run a series of PSAs encouraging people to get inoculated.

Meanwhile, Twitter suspended Paul's fellow Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene once again on Tuesday over COVID-19 misinformation. Green claimed that coronavirus vaccines were "failing" and that the Food and Drug Administration should not give them full approval. It's at least the third time Twitter has prevented Greene from tweeting after she shared information. Users can be banned from Twitter permanently after violating the policy five or more times.

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