Culture

'How to Drink' slams YouTube over pulled videos as COVID-19 misinfo runs rampant

Perfectly normal videos are being removed from YouTube as the platform struggles to tackle COVID-19 hoaxes and conspiracy theories.

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A YouTuber behind the popular channel How to Drink has called the company out after it took down one of his videos for no apparent reason. It might be obvious when you look at his YouTube channel's name, but its creator, Greg, has a simple modus operandi: make exquisite-looking cocktails while talking pop culture, literature, and more. The account boasts at least 900,000 followers. It's rather impressive.

Recently, however, one of his videos got removed from YouTube. The problem? Greg tweeted that he talked about quinine history, which was ultimately removed from the website. It's just one of the latest episodes of YouTube's ongoing struggle with handling COVID-19 content. And it looks like the company isn't targeting the clips that are actually spreading coronavirus fake news.

What rules were broken? — On Twitter, Greg wrote that he uploaded a "Gin and Tonic" video where he discussed quinine history and noted that people should not be tricked by "grifter death cultists" online. "Apparently," Greg tweeted, "those things violate YouTube community guidelines, so [the] video [was] deleted."

"The notice from YouTube doesn't mention how the video runs afoul the guidelines," Greg further added. "I've read them, it's a mystery to me. I appealed and it was denied in less time than it would have taken to even watch my video. The complete disregard of appeal raises concerns." In his tweet thread, Greg also wrote that he believed "Qultists" — presumably a spin on the notorious QAnon theorists online — flagged his video.

"That video contained zero dangerous information, the point I made several times was 'listen to your doctors, not pundits [or] podiums,'" Greg tweeted. "That’s sound advice. Know there’s no chance of it, I’m too small, but I’d really like an answer from @YouTube @TeamYouTube about where I went wrong."

Sloppy work, YouTube — In a previous report, Input highlighted the ever-present issue of COVID-19 misinformation on YouTube. According to Media Matters, YouTube has allowed multiple reuploads of medically unsound videos on the subject. One of these videos has over 1.7 million views. Many other clips, including ones with conspiracy theories about the "deep state" creating out a "plandemic," boast ads.

The news that a cocktail maker's seemingly innocuous video about doctor advice got flagged is proof that the Google company still doesn't have a continuity plan for its content.