Dorset MP takes on YouTube after removal of video on ‘Covid vaccine damage’

Written by Noa Hoffman on 26 April 2022 in News
News

Footage of Conservative Christopher Chope giving speech in Commons was taken down in accordance with ‘misinformation policies’

Credit: Governor Tom Wolf/CC BY 2.0

Conservative MP Sir Christopher Chope has written to YouTube warning the streaming platform that, if it does not reverse its decision to block a video of the MP delivering a speech in the House of Commons that criticises Covid vaccination, he will proceed with a formal complaint.

A video of Chope giving a speech to move his private members’ bill on alleged “Covid-19 vaccine damage” was recently removed by the YouTube for violating the streaming platform’s Covid-19 misinformation policy. The footage, uploaded by a member of the public, captures Chope stating his bill “is about the tens of thousands for whom the harm caused by the vaccine was greater than the benefit”.

The senior MP, who represents the Christchurch constituency in Dorset, claims he has been “cancelled” by YouTube as a result, and describes his bill as focusing on “the families of those who tragically died" after receiving a Covid vaccine. 

Vaccination is the most effective way to reduce the risk of death and severe illness from Covid-19, with unvaccinated people being 14 times more likely to die from the virus than those who have had the jab.

A YouTube spokesperson told PublicTechnology sister publication PoliticsHome: “We can confirm that the video in question has been removed from YouTube in line with our Covid misinformation policies. Specifically, our policies prohibit content that suggests the Covid-19 vaccines cause death.”


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Chope has now written to YouTube, denying that his speech spreads misinformation, and reiterating his belief that Covid-19 vaccines could cause death.

In an ultimatum to the tech giant, the MP requests that the blocked video is reinstated “as soon as possible” and that the public is provided with a “full public explanation”.

“Unfortunately, if you continue to ignore my correspondence, I will have no option but to raise this issue and scrutinise your practices through the appropriate formal channels,” Chope concludes.

YouTube told PoliticsHome its policies on Covid-19 misinformation are tailored to reduce harms and have been informed by NHS and World Health Organisation guidance.

The online platform also said its rules are enforced globally across the platform “regardless of the speaker”.

Since February 2020, more than 1.5 million videos have been removed by YouTube for spreading Covid-19 misinformation.

This can include misinformation related to the treatment, prevention, diagnosis, and transmission of the virus, as well as harmful claims about the vaccines.

In his letter, Chope doubles down on his previous accusation that YouTube is engaging in “cancel culture”, which he says poses a threat to the UK’s democratic values and freedom of speech.

“Censoring speeches which refer to matters entirely consistent with the known safety profile of Covid-19 vaccinations is… an attack not only on your users’ trust, but also on the fundamental democratic values from which they should always be entitled to benefit,” he wrote.  

“As a private and unelected but powerful international corporation, YouTube is at risk of illegitimate and undemocratic censorship,” he adds.  

YouTube has been contacted for a response to Chope's letter.

 

About the author

Noa Hoffman is a reporter for PublicTechnology sister publication PoliticsHome, where this story first appeared. She tweets as @hoffman_noa.

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