It’s been about a week since a lengthy preview from the conspiracy documentary “Plandemic” went viral across the internet. The 25-minute video sent tech companies like Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook into a frenzy as they scrambled to scrape it off their platforms.
The hoax — which featured discredited anti-vaccination scientist Dr. Judy Mikovits and has been debunked — sought to expose “the scientific and political elite who run the scam that is our global health system” and accused Dr. Anthony Fauci, a leading member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, of burying anti-vaccination research.
However, over the past week, the Plandemic video has continued to resurface through alternative video hosting websites.
While other social media giants such as Facebook and YouTube have managed to slow the hoax’s spread, unofficial video links to the “Plandemic” documentary continue to seep through Twitter’s policies and moderating algorithms.
Digital Trends found an endless stream of tweets that redirect to the conspiracy theory video. Common among most of these posts were two fairly popular video hosting platforms, BitChute and Altcensored, which are predominantly positioned as hubs for content that other, mainstream services have blocked.
More disturbingly, Digital Trends discovered Altcensored’s Twitter account has been actively spamming tweets that mention the keyword “pandemic” with links to the Plandemic documentary. On top of that, Altcensored links can be played natively on Twitter so users don’t have to leave the social networking site at all.
Some of the tweets we came across had been retweeted and liked several times.
One of them was tweeted by a verified profile and embedded a BitChute link (that has been streamed 1.5 million times so far).
“YouTube has deleted Dr Judy Mikovits’ viral documentary ‘Plandemic’ which exposes the truth behind #COVID19. Thankfully we have @bitchute who are pro free speech and anti-censorship,” the tweet said. At the time of writing, it was liked by nearly 1,000 people.
To stem the Plandemic misformation tide, Twitter has so far taken a number of steps.
It began censoring widely circulated hashtags such as “#Plandemic”, “#PlagueOfCorruption”, and “#Plandemicmovie.” Plus, earlier this week, the social network introduced new labels for tweets with misleading COVID-19 information. It also marks a handful of URLs including “plandemicmovie.com” as unsafe and displays a precautionary warning whenever users attempt to access them through Twitter’s website and apps.
Twitter told Digital Trends that while it’s taking down tweets that they believe “lead to harm,” it’s not taking “unilateral action” to remove every single Plandemic-related link as people are “frequently disputing the claims in real time with the link included as context.”
Since announcing new policies in March, Twitter claims it has removed more than 2,600 tweets and “challenged 4.3 million potentially spammy accounts targeting COVID-19 discussion.”
It’s unclear exactly how Twitter is imposing its new policies given how quickly these Plandemic links have been proliferating.
The conspiracy video includes false claims that wearing a face mask “activates” and speeds up the virus’ transmission and that shelter-in-place orders damage the immune system — which seem in direct violation of Twitter’s refreshed enforcement guidance.
One guideline seems to explicitly forbid the kind of public health misinformation the Plandemic video is peddling, warning against content that intends to “influence people into acting against recommended guidance, such as: ‘social distancing is not effective.’ ”
The coronavirus “infodemic” will continue to pose a problem for social networks. The ability of these videos to dodge Twitter’s set policies is especially worrying. Accounts like Altcensored have also been able to slip through the cracks, despite being an active distributor of conspiracy theories and other sorts of misinformation videos.
Even if Twitter takes these tweets down now, they will still be viewed and shared by thousands. Digital Trends asked Twitter why these tweets and accounts hadn’t been taken down. We will update this story when we hear back.
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