YouTube Deletes Videos From President Hiccups

YouTube Deletes Videos From President Hiccups
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro speaking at the Planalto Palace in Brasilia following the announcement Brazil's Olympic team will be sponsored by the Caixa Economica Federal state bank on June 1, 2021. (Photo: Evaristo SA / AFP, Getty Images)

YouTube and Brazilian surgeons agree on one thing: belatedly pumping out President Jair Bolsonaro’s pent-up excretions.

The far-right leader — who news sources reported recently had to have a litre of backed-up fluid removed from his stomach after an intestinal blockage caused him to hiccup for over 10 days — has spent most of the coronavirus pandemic living in its own fabricated alternate reality. Bolsonaro’s government has downplayed and lied about the scale and danger of the pandemic while promoting quack cures, attacking scientists and health authorities, and laughing off claims their reckless approach was tantamount to genocide by proxy. YouTube has now taken down 15 of Bolsonaro’s videos for violating its policies on coronavirus disinformation, the BBC reported on Wednesday, at least one of which was first posted nearly two months ago.

Bolsonaro’s YouTube channel hosts his weekly addresses to the public, among other content. According to the Washington Post, in one of the deleted videos dated May 27, Bolsonaro recommended those who contract the coronavirus treat themselves with indigenous teas and the antimalarial medication hydroxychloroquine, which research has long since shown to be useless against covid-19. (Bolsonaro has promoted a cocktail of medications that can in some cases cause extremely dangerous side effects like kidney failure.)

The Post wrote that another of the deleted videos featured former health minister Eduardo Pazuell, who prosecutors have charged with misconduct for allegedly allowing millions of coronavirus tests to expire and deliberately restricting the availability of accurate information about the pandemic to the public. In that video, according to the BBC, Pazuell compared the coronavirus to the global HIV/AIDS pandemic as though neither were all that big a deal: “Post-HIV pandemic, HIV continues to exist. There are still some who are contaminated, most are treated, and life goes on.”

According to Reuters, Brazilian health authorities said on Wednesday there had been over 54,500 confirmed cases of the virus across the country in the preceding 24 hours and 1,424 related deaths. The total number of cases in Brazil stands at over 19 million, with 545,000 deaths. As is the case in many other countries, these numbers are widely considered to be underestimates. Meanwhile, Brazil’s vaccination campaign is well behind schedule. Recent opinion polling has indicated support for Bolsonaro’s administration is cratering.

This isn’t the first time that YouTube has deleted Bolsonaro’s videos. According to O Globo, the site removed 5 videos in April and another 12 in May for similar reasons. Other sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, have also periodically taken down Bolsonaro’s posts for spreading coronavirus misinformation. Despite repeatedly violating all of these platform’s policies, Bolsonaro seems like he’s generally been given a free hand to continue doing so until the next round of housekeeping.

YouTube told the Post in a statement that the decision was made “after careful review” and without any consideration to his politics.

“Our policies don’t allow content that claims hydroxychloroquine and/or Ivermectin are effective to treat or prevent covid-19, claims that there is a guaranteed cure for covid-19, and claims that masks don’t work to prevent the spread of the virus,” a YouTube spokesperson told the paper. “These guidelines are in line with the guidance of local and global health authorities, and we update our policies as these guidelines change.”