Facebook and YouTube scramble to delete “Plandemic” video

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Earlier this week, a southern California filmmaker posted his latest production on Facebook and YouTube and let social media platforms do what they were designed to do: make his video go viral.

Within days, the 26-minute video had spread like wildfire, garnering millions of views and drawing legions of new fans. The video, titled “Plandemic,” looks like a serious documentary, with well-filmed interviews interspersed with news and disturbing music. But it spreads conspiracy theories about the coronaviruses, which could encourage viewers to ignore public health recommendations or to try ineffective or dangerous treatments for viral infection.

On Thursday, social media companies where video has proliferated pledged to stop broadcasting the video. They are now struggling to prevent the emergence of new copies. At the time of publication of this article, links or versions of the video were still available on Facebook and YouTube.

Medical disinformation has proliferated on major social media platforms for years, particularly around the topic of vaccine safety. Platforms have pledged to apply disinformation policies more firmly, but the task has proven difficult for companies whose services are designed to allow users to reach a large audience with little oversight. But the coronavirus crisis has been particularly fertile ground for conspiracy theorization, inspiring viral videos that have been turning stories of international intrigue and profitable cabals since its inception.

Video “Plandemic” centers on interviews with researcher named Judy Milkovits, whose false claims include the allegation that wealthy people are intentionally spreading the new coronavirus to increase vaccination rates in the general population and that wearing a mask can actually worsen viral symptoms.

In a statement, a Facebook representative said the company is removing video from Facebook and Instagram and rejecting ads that include video as part of its policy of removing false information related to COVID-19 that could cause harm imminent. The company wrote in a blog in mid-April that it had directed more than 2 billion people to factual information from the World Health Organization in an attempt to combat misinformation about the pandemic.

“Suggesting that wearing a mask can make you sick could result in imminent damage,” said a Facebook representative when asked about the “Plandemic” video response. “So we deleted the video. “

YouTube has posted video upload reviews that read, “This video has been removed for violating YouTube community policies.” Video platform Vimeo also said it is trying to delete the video, and Twitter is blocking hashtags and video-related searches.

Mikki Willis, the director behind the video, is listed as the founder and managing director on the website for Elevate, an Ojai-based production company. Willis has a large audience on Facebook. In recent weeks, he has asked his supporters to vote on the name of his new video (among the other candidates, “The Oath” and “The Invisible Enemy”), and has published long articles claiming to link the WHO to conspiracy theories surrounding the Council on Foreign Relations and the recent death of Jeffrey Epstein.

The virality of the video has been boosted by anti-vaccine conspiracy theory activists online, according to the cover of MIT Technology Review. When YouTube started removing copies of the video on Thursday, supporters turned to Twitter in outrage, making the video title a hot topic, further fueling attention and media coverage.



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