On Monday, Youtube suspended the Brazilian President’s channel for at least seven days, after Jair Bolsonaro claimed in a video that the use of vaccines against covid-19 could facilitate the development of AIDS.
The video, which was streamed live on the President’s official account on Thursday, was also removed because it violates the platform’s “medical misinformation about covid-19” guidelines, YouTube explained.
“We apply our policies consistently across the platform, regardless of who the creator is or what their political opinion is,” the video platform said in a statement. YouTube spokespersons explained to Spanish agency Efe that the platform also chose to suspend Bolsonaro’s account for at least a week because his channel had already been notified in July of the publication of disinformation about the pandemic. Thus, as it is a “recurrence”, the leader of the Brazilian extreme right will not be able to publish new videos or broadcast live for the next seven days.
It is the first time that a social network has suspended the profile of Bolsonaro, who has been characterized by denial in face of the gravity of the covid-19 pandemic and the effectiveness of vaccines to fight the disease. Before YouTube, social networks Facebook and Instagram also removed from their platforms the video in which Bolsonaro linked the use of vaccines against covid-19 to the development of AIDS (Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome).
In a live video last Thursday, the head of state cited false news in which official reports from the UK Government suggested that some people vaccinated against covid-19 were developing AIDS “much faster than predicted”, thus justifying its position against immunization.
“I’m just going to break the news. I’m not going to comment on it because I’ve said it in the past and it’s been criticized. Official UK Government reports suggest that fully vaccinated people are developing AIDS 15 days after the second dose. Read this news. No. I’m going to read it here because I might have problems with my live broadcast,” said the President.
Bolsonaro’s statements generated a wave of criticism from different medical and scientific associations, who quickly denied any link between the vaccine and AIDS, and labeled them as false news.
The president of the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies, Arthur Lira, said on Monday that Jair Bolsonaro should be held responsible for disclosing false information, when commenting on the decision taken by social networks. “If he [Bolsonaro] has no scientific basis, he will pay for it,” stated Lira, commenting on the matter during a seminar on agribusiness in São Paulo. Bolsonaro’s denial led to the establishment of a parliamentary commission that investigated for six months the Government’s alleged omissions in the midst of a health emergency, whose final report, which is due to be voted today, accuses Bolsonaro of “crimes against humanity” for having aggravated the pandemic.
With more than 605,000 deaths and 21.7 million infected by covid-19, Brazil is, in absolute numbers, one of the three countries most affected by the pandemic in the world, together with the United States and India. Covid-19 has caused at least 4,945,746 deaths worldwide, among more than 243.56 million infections by the new coronavirus recorded since the beginning of the pandemic, according to the latest report by the Agence France-Presse.