YouTube suspends Rand Paul for 7 days over COVID mask claims

U.S. Senator Rand Paul has been suspended from YouTube for seven days after posting a video claiming masks are ineffective against COVID-19, a spokesperson for the platform said. 

“This resulted in a first strike on the channel, which means it can’t upload content for a week, per our longstanding three strikes policy,” a YouTube spokesperson told CBS News in a statement. “We apply our policies consistently across the platform, regardless of speaker or political views, and we make exceptions for videos that have additional context such as countervailing views from local health authorities.”

The Kentucky Republican tweeted that the suspension was a “badge of honor” on Tuesday and criticized YouTube for the decision. In a statement on his office website, Paul said in part, “this kind of censorship is very dangerous, incredibly anti-free speech.” 

“I think private companies have the right to ban me if they want to, so in this case I’ll just channel that frustration into ensuring the public knows YouTube is acting as an arm of government and censoring their users for contradicting the government,” he said. 

His temporary ban comes after Paul shared a video where he discussed the efficacy of masks. In it, there are at least two examples of where the video has “violative content,” according to YouTube. The platform removes content that includes claims that masks don’t work to prevention the contraction or transmission of COVID-19. 

Paul wasn’t the only member of Congress to be suspended from a platform on Tuesday. Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene was suspended from Twitter for sharing misinformation about COVID-19. Her account is on a seven-day lock, according to Twitter.