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YouTube pulls COVID-19 'misinformation' videos from Brazil leader Jair Bolsonaro

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro attends a press conference to discuss measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease in Brasilia, Brazil, on March 18, 2020. File Photo by Joedson Alves/EPA-EFE
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro attends a press conference to discuss measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease in Brasilia, Brazil, on March 18, 2020. File Photo by Joedson Alves/EPA-EFE

July 22 (UPI) -- YouTube has removed videos Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro posted to his channel for violating rules against making false COVID-19 claims.

The online video sharing platform said Bolsonaro violated company policies regarding COVID-19 misinformation and promotion of unproven cures.

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"Our policies don't allow content that claims hydroxychloroquine and/or Ivermectin are effective to treat or prevent COVID-19, and claims that masks don't work to prevent the spread of the virus," YouTube said, according to The New York Times. "This is in line with the guidance of local and global health authorities, and we update our policies as guidance changes."

YouTube added that it took down the post "after careful review" and without regard to politics.

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The move makes YouTube the latest online platform to remove posts from Bolsonaro, who has disparaged vaccines, masks and lockdowns to prevent the spread of COVID-19. There were protests earlier this year in Brazil calling for his removal from office over his response to the pandemic.

Bolsonaro prompted more protests earlier this month over his alleged involvement in a vaccine corruption scandal. He's accused of overlooking warnings to secure millions of vaccines without complete clinical trials.

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Last year, Facebook removed one of Bolsonaro's videos for violating polices against misinformation, and Twitter required him to remove the video himself.

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Brazil currently has the third-highest number of coronavirus cases and second-highest number of deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. It trails only the United States and India in cases and only the United States in deaths.

Nearly 17% of Brazil's population has been fully vaccinated, according to a global vaccine tracker.

Amid record-setting COVID-19 deaths and surging cases in Brazil in March, especially among younger people being infected by a more contagious variant, military and government officials said Bolsonaro pressured them to prevent COVID-19 lockdown orders.

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In particular, Brazil's attorney general Andre Levi resigned after refusing to sign Bolsonaro's lawsuit to lift lockdown orders in three states. Commanders also resigned in protest over disagreement about the firing of defense minister Fernando Azevedo e Silva.

Allies say Bolsonaro fired Azevedo because he didn't meet his demand to prevent COVID-19 lockdowns.

Bolsonaro's efforts to overturn the restrictions were defeated in Brazil's Supreme Court.

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