YouTube reverses course, restores St. Louis County Council meeting video to platform

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Updated with new information after YouTube restored the video to its platform

ST. LOUIS – Public comments from a pair of recent St. Louis County Council meetings may be to blame for action taken by YouTube to remove video of Tuesday’s meeting from its website before being restored late Thursday afternoon.

In emails obtained by FOX2, the county’s Chief Information Officer Charles Henderson said YouTube issued the county a warning on August 3 regarding content from a July 20, 2021 meeting and issued a strike because of content from the August 4 meeting.

“YouTube and the other major Social Media platforms (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) are focused on removing content that the platforms have deemed as COVID Vaccine misinformation,” Henderson wrote to members of the Council and others Thursday. “I believe that both the warning and the strike are due to statements being made during the Public Forum part of the Council Session. We are not the only government to be subject to having videos removed. The city of Bellingham Washington has also had a video removed due to Vaccine misinformation.

More than 40 people testified at Tuesday’s meeting, almost entirely against the proposal for a new mask mandate.

“As I suspect that Vaccines are going to be a subject in the Public Forum for some time, and we should not in any way attempt to control what the public wishes to speak about, this will likely continue to be a problem as long as we are on the YouTube platform,” Henderson wrote.

A spokesperson for Google, YouTube’s parent company said in a statement to FOX late Thurday afternoon that “Upon further review, we’re reinstating the St. Louis Council meeting video. We have policies in place to allow content that might otherwise violate our COVID-19 misinformation policies as long as it includes educational, documentary, scientific, or artistic (EDSA) context.”

That context, the company says, could include showing an open public forum, like a protest or public hearing, provided the content does not aim to promote misinformation that violates YouTube policies.

“This ruling by YouTube is total BS,” County Councilman Mark Harder responded in the same email thread as Henderson’s to the original decision. “This is nothing but censorship. We have no control over any information shared with the council in public comments. How could we possibly police this.?  We would be canceled every week for something or another. ( cancel culture at work ). We need to pull everything we have off of YouTube and replace on another platform ASAP.”

St. Louis County is testing similar platforms for livestreaming meetings and could switch to a new service August 10.  

According to our sister station WDAF in Kansas City, the Shawnee Mission school board voted last month to stop streaming public comments after  YouTube flagged the district for misinformation broadcasted during a meeting last spring

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