KEY POINTS

  • YouTube and Facebook have approached removing a harmful video from their platforms in different ways
  • The social media giants deliberated over whether to delete videos by doctors encouraging the end of lockdown 
  • The particular video in question had been seen at least 15 million times by Wednesday

Neither YouTube nor Facebook can seem to agree on the best way to handle videos from two California doctors regarding nationwide coronavirus lockdowns. 

Doctors Artin Massihi and Dan Erickson of Bakersfield, California, are seen in the videos discussing the perceived diminished risk of coronavirus as they insisted staying home is, in fact, unnecessary at this time. In addition to this misinformation, the pair also insinuated doctors had been blaming COVID-19 for apparently unrelated illnesses. 

The doctors are seen dressed in scrubs in the videos, which were part of a live-streamed news conference in Bakersfield. During the clips, they show off alleged data culled from 5,213 COVID-19 tests, which they claimed demonstrated the disease had actually caused very few deaths. They also stated the need for protective equipment and masks had actually been overblown.

"Are we being pressured to add COVID to maybe increase the numbers and make it look a little bit worse than it is? I think so," Erickson said of "inaccurate" death numbers, while citing additional doctors who claimed they had been told to list the respiratory illness as a cause of death when unrelated. 

YouTube removed the doctors' two videos, but Facebook did not follow suit. However, the doctors' videos exist in several channels on YouTube; many of them split up and reuploaded. One particular copy on Facebook has racked up over 9 million views. 

The different platforms have taken different stances when it comes to moderating this kind of content online during the pandemic. Given that doctors are typically a trusted source for this type of information, moderation efforts for removal of videos by licensed healthcare professionals remains something of a dilemma. 

"We quickly remove flagged content that violates our Community Guidelines, including content that explicitly disputes the efficacy of local health authority recommended guidance on social distancing that may lead others to act against that guidance," said YouTube spokesperson Ivy Choi in a statement to NBC News. Facebook did not offer one at this time. 

"However, content that provides sufficient educational, documentary, scientific or artistic context is allowed," Choi continued.