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EXCLUSIVE: GOP Sen. Ron Johnson demanded YouTube give account to the Senate for the company’s moderation policies surrounding COVID-19 that allegedly enabled a “troubling track record” of repeated censorship of a sitting U.S. Senator.
In a letter first reviewed by Fox News Digital, ranking member of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Johnson, of Wisconsin, told YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki Johnson that the company’s policies “appear to have led to repeated censorship.”
Johnson is requesting YouTube provide the committee with documentation “concerning the development and implementation” of the company’s content moderation policies surrounding COVID-19 ‘misinformation,’ which YouTube says were created with help from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Food & Drug Administration and other “third party health authorities.”
“YouTube has displayed a troubling track record of censoring a sitting United States Senator, the proceedings of the United States Senate, journalists that interview me, and the display of data that is entirely generated from U.S. government health agencies,” the senator wrote.
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The letter documents in detail multiple instances, starting in October 2021, in which Johnson alleges YouTube censored and suspended him for his expressed views of early treatment of COVID-19, opposition to vaccine mandates for children and workers, and advocacy for individuals injured by vaccines — including the removal of interviews with Sen. Johnson conducted by journalists discussing these topics.
The Wisconsin senator also alleges YouTube applies a double standard of its moderation practices, which came to light in a September 14 Senate hearing while questioning YouTube’s chief product officer, Neal Mohan.
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“I read the following two quotes that President Biden said on July 21, 2021. The first was, ‘You’re not going to get COVID if you have these vaccinations.’ The second was, ‘If you’re vaccinated, you’re not going to be hospitalized, you’re not going to be in an ICU unit, and you’re not going to die,’” the Senator recounts in his letter.
“There is no doubt that these two statements are false. I asked Mr. Mohan and the witnesses from the other social media companies whether your companies ever flagged President Biden as a spreader of misinformation. No one even attempted to answer my question.”
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Wojcicki has stated previously, “Whether it’s press, advertising, our brand reputation, there are many other forces that cause us to move very quickly to do what we think is the right thing for society and the right thing for users, and to balance all of these different conflicting needs.”
Johnson is requesting all YouTube’s communications, external and internal, connected to each instance of alleged censorship by the social media company.
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YouTube did not immediately respond to Fox News Digital’s request for comment on the letter.