YouTube suspended U.S. Sen. Rand Paul for seven days on Tuesday and removed a video posted by the Kentucky Republican that claimed cloth masks don't prevent infection, saying it violated policies on COVID-19 misinformation.
It's the second time this month that one of Paul's videos has been taken down by YouTube for breaking its rules about misleading content.
“We removed content from Senator Paul’s channel for including claims that masks are ineffective in preventing the contraction or transmission of COVID-19, in accordance with our COVID-19 medical misinformation policies," YouTube said in a statement. “We apply our policies consistently across the platform, regardless of speaker or political views.”
In the three-minute video Paul disputed the effectiveness of masks, which the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and medical experts around the world have recommended to limit the spread of the coronavirus.
“Most of the masks you get over the counter don’t work," Paul, an eye surgeon, said in the video. "They don’t prevent infection.”
Paul called YouTube's decision a “badge of honor” in a tweet. In a statement issued by his office he acknowledged that the company has the right to police its own platform.
“As a libertarian-leaning Senator, 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.
During the seven-day suspension, Paul will be unable to post new videos to his YouTube account.
Twitter took similar action this week against Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, suspending the Georgia Republican for a week after she tweeted, falsely, that the “vaccines are failing & do not reduce the spread of the virus & neither do masks.”
It has been widely established that vaccines and masks work against COVID-19.
Additional reporting by the Associated Press.