A slickly-produced interview with discredited scientist Judy Mikovits promotes conspiracy theories and is being removed by multiple tech platforms.
Social media and video platforms including Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are racing to remove a slickly-produced interview with widely discredited scientist Judy Mikovits. The viral "Plandemic" video lasts more than 20 minutes and peddles numerous debunked conspiracy theories about the coronavirus pandemic.
The video called “Plandemic: The Hidden Agenda Behind Covid-19” has been viewed tens of millions of times before platforms begin removing it, according to Politifact, a fact-checking website run by the nonprofit Poynter Institute for Media Studies. The site has extensively debunked claims made in the video.
The video is billed as a preview of an upcoming documentary and was produced by Elevate, a California production company run by Mikki Willis.
Wills claimed in a Facebook post in April the project will result in a "full length documentary intended to blast the light of truth into the darkest corners of our corrupt healthcare system."
Fact check: What's true and what's false about coronavirus?
Consider this: Are smokers at less risk for contracting the coronavirus?
The widespread effort to remove the "Plandemic" video is another example of tech companies trying to fight misinformation circulating on social media about coronavirus that has killed nearly 270,000 people and infected about 4 million worldwide, according to the John Hopkins University data dashboard.'Plandemic' is a viral video spreading misinformation
Among the conspiracies the video peddles: It attacks the record of Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; promotes unproven treatments; questions the origins of the coronavirus; and claims wearing masks is likely to make you sick.
The last claim has proven particularly troublesome, according to a statement from Facebook.
"Suggesting that wearing a mask can make you sick could lead to imminent harm, so we're removing the video," a Facebook company spokesperson said in a statement.
USA TODAY has rated the claim that face masks weaken the immune system as false.
Wearing a face mask can lessen the spread of the coronavirus from a sick person to a healthy individual, according the The Mayo Clinic. Masks are also suggested for people caring for someone with COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus. Risks associated with wearing face masks only apply to a select few in the general population.
The "Plandemic"video also misrepresents Mikovits' background, according to the Washington Post.
An analysis from Forbes suggests the professional-quality editing of the video has artificially bolstered the video's credibility in the minds of some viewers.Who is Judy Mikovits?
Mikovits is a biochemist who made news in 2009 for claiming a link between chronic fatigue syndrome and a retrovirus — a breakthrough that was later retracted by its publisher.
She was later accused of theft for having her papers removed from a research institute that fired her.
A criminal case was dropped. Mikovits said she was blackballed as a researcher and forced into bankruptcy, all part of a conspiracy aimed at suppressing her criticism of vaccines.
Fact Check: Vaccines are definitely not linked to autism, and other facts you can throw at anti-vaxers
More: Facts alone don't sway anti-vaxxers. So what does?YouTube, Vimeo among platforms to remove clips
A YouTube spokesperson said the company removes content that violates its Community Guidelines, including “content that includes medically unsubstantiated diagnostic advice for COVID-19,” like the “Plandemic” video.
The "Plandemic" video is too long to be shared on Twitter in full, but smaller clips that are shared will be evaluated to determine if they violate its rules, according to a spokesperson for the company. Twitter has also blocked #Plandemic, #PlagueofCorruption and #Plandemicmovie from trends and search.
"Vimeo stands firm in keeping our platform safe from content that spreads harmful and misleading health information. The video in question has been removed by our Trust & Safety team for violating these very policies. We are constantly monitoring and will continue to remove any similar videos uploaded," the company said in a statement to USA TODAY.
Contributing: Chelsey Cox; Tom Kisken, Ventura County Star
Follow N'dea Yancey-Bragg on Twitter: @NdeaYanceyBragg
SEARCHABLE MAP: Coronavirus death rates and cases for every US county: https://interactives.courier-journal.com/projects/cv19/map/
All coronavirus coverage is being provided free to our readers. Please consider supporting local journalism by subscribing. Help keep local businesses afloat at supportlocal.usatoday.com.