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Is YouTube Now Presuming to be in Charge of Science?


Courts around the country are striking down vaccine mandates and even Covid restrictions in general. Protests against both have erupted the world over. There is a trend in which major names and faces that imposed lockdowns on the country are resigning from their positions and otherwise dropping out of politics. The Biden administration in general has sunk in the polls. The resistance to the entire regime of command and control that seized the world in March 2020 is growing by the day.

But none of this seems to matter to the dominant Internal portals of Google and YouTube, which Google owns. They occupy the number one and number two spots for global traffic and reach. That’s some serious power over what the majority of people read, see, hear, and believe. It’s true that critically thinking people have already shifted to DuckDuckGo, Rumble, and many other platforms, and their market share is growing, to be sure. But nothing can compare to the 75% market share of YouTube, or the 86% share of search controlled by Google.

Often individual users can develop a distorted sense of that whole based on their own browsing habits. You like, for example, and you get great information from this site. It is easy to forget that its 4 million users seem nearly invisible compared with the traffic enjoyed by the larger sites. Being on the admin side, it is much easier to observe how a myth spread, for example, by CNN can reach tens of millions of people whereas its refutation on a small site might only reach a few thousand. The myth stands. 

For this reason, their Terms of Use seriously matter for culture, politics, intellectual life, and public opinion in general. And Google has just changed its terms as they apply to YouTube. It’s a fair presumption that Google’s search results will reflect these same terms. They pertain directly to the science behind Covid, mitigation policies, and mandates on the vaccines. These new terms go into effect on January 6, 2022 (why that date?). If they are truly enforced, freedom of speech and the ability of the scientific process to operate unimpeded will be severely curtailed. 

Under the new rules, you cannot claim “that the pandemic is over.” Which is to say, the pandemic is now declared to last forever. You cannot make “claims that any group or individual has immunity to the virus or cannot transmit the virus,” which means that all the science on naturally acquired immunity can be deleted. 

You cannot claim that ”vaccines do not reduce risk of contracting COVID-19,” which directly contradicts the FDA: “The scientific community does not yet know if the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine will reduce such transmission.” You cannot post “videos alleging that social distancing and self-isolation are not effective in reducing the spread of the virus” and you cannot claim that “wearing a mask causes oxygen levels to drop to dangerous levels.”

And there is this one: you cannot make claims that “achieving herd immunity through natural infection is safer than vaccinating the population,” even though endemicity is inevitable and the vaccines cannot make a substantial contribution to its achievement due to their inability to protect fully against infection and transmission. 

As usual, the long list of Do Nots also includes statements that are patently false and otherwise ridiculous – so much so that it seems not dangerous to permit them! The full list is extremely long and includes many fully open questions that Google/YouTube wants to be declared closed. Some of the Do Nots also include statements that are contradicted by statements from Fauci and Biden, such as the rule that you cannot make “claims that any vaccine is a guaranteed prevention method for COVID-19.” The head of the CDC made exactly this claim! 

If these rules are strenuously enforced, millions of videos, interviews, television shows, lectures, press conferences, and scientific presentations will disappear. Maybe tens of millions actually. And all in the name of protecting “science” against its corruption, as if YouTube should be the determinant of what constitutes good science. 

Here is what Google says about the consequences of violating the rules:

We may allow content that violates the misinformation policies noted on this page if that content includes additional context in the video, audio, title, or description. This is not a free pass to promote misinformation. Additional context may include countervailing views from local health authorities or medical experts. We may also make exceptions if the purpose of the content is to condemn, dispute, or satirize misinformation that violates our policies. We may also make exceptions for content showing an open public forum, like a protest or public hearing, provided the content does not aim to promote misinformation that violates our policies. 

If your content violates this policy, we’ll remove the content and send you an email to let you know. If this is your first time violating our Community Guidelines, you’ll likely get a warning with no penalty to your channel. If it’s not, we may issue a strike against your channel. If you get 3 strikes within 90 days, your channel will be terminated.

An intriguing question for any defender of private enterprise – I am certainly that – is why Google would so willingly turn over its platform to a branch of the state and its medical/policy priorities. It cannot be simply the desire to only say true things because there is plenty that is thoroughly disputable in these rules and much has already been challenged by vast quantities of peer-reviewed studies. 

How does it come to be that such a huge business can become fully captured by government? I have friends who say it is the reverse actually, that Google has fully captured government, and is driving forward the agenda of politics. Regardless, it becomes a troubled world in which one can no longer distinguish business from the state, or either from big pharmaceutical companies. The state finds it more advantageous to enlist business in its rights violations than risk the court challenges that come with directly violating the First Amendment. The law restricts states in ways that do not apply to private companies, so the answer for the state seems obvious: use the private sector to achieve state policy priorities, particularly as it pertains to controlling the information to which the public has access. 

Others might observe that Google has everything to gain from its investment in lockdown policies and mandates, all the better to keep people glued to their personal computers. Even granting that big tech benefited enormously from lockdowns, that’s an outlook on enterprise that is too cynical for me to believe at this stage. Or maybe I’m naive. 

What seems clear is that these censorious moves could seriously erode market share and give rise to new platforms that will eventually compete more directly. But before we get too optimistic about this, the time between now and then is a very long time away, while the change in the scientific culture that this move will enact starts next month. 

Here is the full text of Google Terms of Use as it pertains to the most critical issues affecting freedom, free speech, and science in the world today. For your research amusement, you can see via the WaybackMachine how this page has expanded over time from its initial page on May 2, 2020, to today. 


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  • Jeffrey A. Tucker

    Jeffrey Tucker is Founder, Author, and President at Brownstone Institute. He is also Senior Economics Columnist for Epoch Times, author of 10 books, including Life After Lockdown, and many thousands of articles in the scholarly and popular press. He speaks widely on topics of economics, technology, social philosophy, and culture.

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