From YouTube to WHO-Tube
by Rob Verkerk PhD, founder, executive & scientific director, ANH-Intl | Nov 2, 2022
Would you trust the World Health Organization (WHO) as the ultimate arbiter when it comes to distinguishing online health-related misinformation from science-based, life-saving information?
The nearly 8 billion of us who currently inhabit planet Earth are being asked just that, to blindly accept this newly assumed role by the WHO, as supreme arbitrator of what constitutes online misinformation. With Big Tech, Google and its video arm YouTube, acting as censors-cum-enforcers.
WHO’s on a mission
Some might do well to ponder the consequences of this decision, one that has not involved a single democratic instrument or process, and one that drives a coach and horses through any remaining interest in the sanctity of free speech. Let’s also consider the fact that the WHO is an unelected supra-national agency with intimate ties to an industry that is unequivocally known to be one of the most corrupt (see here, here and here).
On the WHO’s website, under the heading “Combatting misinformation online”, the agency states:
“WHO and partners recognize that misinformation online has the potential to travel further, faster and sometimes deeper than the truth — on some social media platforms, falsehoods are 70% more likely to get shared than accurate news. To counter this, WHO has taken a number of actions with tech companies to remain one step ahead.”
Given the WHO professes to be so science-based has been handed the mantle as the ultimate arbiter, one wonders why it chose not to offer a citation for the research that underpinned the “falsehoods are 70% more likely to get shared” statement given this is its key justification for assuming such authority.
WHO’s feeble justification
Our research suggests the most likely evidence comes from a paper by Soroush Vosoughi, Deb Roy and Sinan Aral from MIT entitled “The spread of true and false news online”, published in March 2018 in the journal Science. The study was funded by a major Big Tech player, Twitter, and its central finding was that “falsehoods were 70% more likely to be retweeted than the truth.” I don’t wish to dispute the science used, just the context. This work had little to do with concerns over health – it was all about questions around ‘fake news’ during Donald Trump’s time in the Oval Office.
Let’s drill down into the study a little and see just how relevant it is to the WHO’s decision to appoint itself as arbiter of online truth and falsity in relation to health.
The MIT scientists investigated around 126,000 rumour cascades on Twitter involving around 3 million people that were shared more than 4.5 million times. These covered the time from the inception of Twitter in 2006 through to 2017, neatly covering the pre-Trump era and very beginning of the Trump era. Tweets were verified as true, false or mixed (partially true, partially false) with the veracity (or otherwise) of the tweets being based on fact checks by 6 “independent fact-checking organizations (snopes.com, politifact.com, factcheck.org, truthorfiction.com, hoax-slayer.com and urbanlegends.about.com)“.
None of this involved the covid era, we don’t know how many health (please note: the word ‘health’ does not appear even once on the paper). In relation to the study’s relevance to health-related science or medical issues, the study is strongly biased towards an area that is irrelevant, namely political falsities, given these were reported as both the largest category studied and were three times more likely to be shared than other categories including science (that presumably is the silo in which health-related tweets were considered).
Drilling down even further, the study attempted to discover why it was that political falsities were more likely to be shared than true facts. The results distilled down to two primary emotions: novelty/surprise, and disgust. In other words, quite different drivers from the broader range of emotions and drivers that drive our survival instinct that cause us to seek out information that is helps us become or stay healthy. Such as whether or not taking ivermectin might help or hinder your chances if you were to contract covid-19.
Twitter’s study that likely underpins the WHO’s main reason to usurp control over health-related information is perversely linked to decisions made by private ‘fact-checker’ organisations that, in our view, have often misrepresented the facts when it comes to scientific and medical matters, especially around covid-19.
A clear example concerns the role of ivermectin in prevention or early treatment of covid-19, and the way this topic was handled by Snopes in its article “Can Ivermectin Cure Coronavirus?” is entirely typical of other ‘fact-checkers’. let’s dig in.
Snopes attempts to get its readers onto a different track by immediately trying to tarnish ivermectin’s reputation, the generic drug derived originally from a soil-borne bacterium. At the outset, Snopes refers to ivermectin as “an anti-parasitic drug used as the primary ingredient in canine heartworm”. Why did Snopes fail to make mention of it being the subject of a Nobel Prize in 2015 given its role in the successful treatment of tropical diseases like malaria and dengue, let alone that it was the only infectious disease agent for which the Nobel Committee for Physiology and Medicine had ever awarded its highly distinguished prize? Despite updates as recently as April 2022, the article also fails to mention that by the end of 2021, there were already seven published meta-analyses of which six showed that on average those subjects who used ivermectin experienced less than one-third the risk compared with those who didn’t.
The Snopes piece shouts loudly about the findings which suggested a lack of benefit of ivermectin in the Brazilian study of 3,515 patients, of which only 657 received ivermectin. This was part of the international TOGETHER Trial published in the New England Journal of Medicine in May 2022. But Snopes fails to mention the associated scientific misconduct linked to TOGETHER. Snopes is also entirely mute on – and saw no reason to update its position – given the much larger study on ivermectin in Brazil published in the journal Cureus in August (2022). The study, led by highly experienced doctors and scientists who had been in the front line of covid-19 in Brazil, Drs Lucy Kerr and Flavio Cadegiani, included 223,128 subjects of which 113,844 had used ivermectin. The authors, including Dr Pierre Kory from the Front Line COVID-19 Critical Care Alliance (FLCCC), found a clear-dose response with ivermectin, with regular users of ivermectin suffering a mortality rate that was a stunning 92% lower than non-users. I was fortunate to hear the authors discuss this seminal study at the Médicos pela Vida (Doctor’s for Life) conference in Iguazu Falls in June.
The above-mentioned limitations of the Snopes piece are just a few of the many more – and this is typical of all ‘fact-checker’s’ pieces that are clearly designed to do little more than denigrate any opposing views to those of the WHO and the world’s most powerful drug regulators, namely the US’s FDA, the UK’s MHRA and the EU’s EMA.
So far, I’ve tried to make a case that suggests there is inadequate evidence to justify handing the reins of control to the WHO as an arbiter of true, false or misleading information relating to health. It would appear, at the very least, the WHO and those governments, corporations, organisations and individuals that influence it most, are simply too compromised by conflicts of interest.
Let’s now see how that might play out with Big Tech, which controls the lines of communication between people, now that social networks have become the key mechanism by which the people sharing information among each other.
From YouTube to WHOTube
YouTube has instigated a YouTube Certification Program (YCP) that ensures certified companies and individuals are tagged as ‘authoritative’ which means their content will get boosted in searches. By deduction, we should assume that content not labelled as authoritative (such as the page you are currently reading) gets strangled and pushed down the search rankings.
Certification requires successful examination and adherence to specific YCP Terms including highly restrictive Community Guidelines and YouTube’s Code of Conduct (which at the time of writing goes to a dead link at https://creatoracademy.youtube.com/page/certified-coc?hl=en).
YouTube Health takes it a couple of steps further.
Firstly, the WHO-approved messages will be offered to the public via the lenses of mainstream, pharma industry-funded institutions like the NEJM Group, the Vaccine Confidence Project, and Johns Hopkins, not forgetting the WHO itself.
Secondly, certain categories of healthcare professional will be able to apply to make their channels eligible for being given preference in algorithms as they are deemed reliable or authoritative.
In his blog of 27 October, head of YouTube Health, Dr Garth Graham said: “… for the first time, certain categories of healthcare professionals and health information providers can apply to make their channels eligible for our health product features that were launched in the US last year. This includes health source information panels that help viewers identify videos from authoritative sources and health content shelves that highlight videos from these sources when you search for health topics, so people can more easily navigate and evaluate health information online.”
Dr Graham goes on to say: “Applicants must have proof of their license, follow best practices for health information sharing as set out by the Council of Medical Specialty Societies, the National Academy of Medicine and the World Health Organization, and have a channel in good standing on YouTube. Full details on eligibility requirements are here.”
This means the only accepted viewpoints of health professionals will be those coming from licensed doctors and nurses (who in turn can only maintain their licenses by ‘playing the game’). These must align with ‘best practices’ as determined by the likes of the WHO, the National Academy of Medicine in the US, and in the UK, the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges and the National Health Service.
Who thinks WHO is right?
Put simply, Google, as the largest purveyor and censor of information on the planet, is dead set on forcing the narrative around health into the limited space controlled by the WHO and its pharma allies.
By definition, free speech in science and medicine will be dead on Google, as well as on its YouTube platform and health-related companies owned by its parent company Alphabet, such as Verily Life Sciences and Fitbit.
If you had any doubts, YouTube has already laid out its covid-19 “medical misinformation policy” that provides us with a stark reminder of what it won’t entertain on its platform. Following is a selection of topics that it will not tolerate, followed by a single source of rebuttal from my end as a reminder of its unscientific basis:
- YouTube: “Content that recommends use of Ivermectin or Hydroxychloroquine for the treatment of COVID-19”
Rebuttal: Kerr L, Baldi F, Lobo R, Assagra WL, Proença FC, Chamie JJ, Hibberd JA, Kory P, Cadegiani FA. Cureus. 2022
- YouTube: “Content that claims that any group or individual has immunity to the virus”
Rebuttal: Chemaitelly H, Bertollini R, Abu-Raddad LJ; National Study Group for COVID-19 Epidemiology. N Engl J Med. 2022
- YouTube: “Claims that Ivermectin [is] safe to use in the prevention of COVID-19”
Rebuttal: Singh A, Sheth PG, Dhaneria S, Gupta D. Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Medicine 2021
- YouTube: “Claims that an approved COVID-19 vaccine will cause death… “
Rebuttal: 31,696 deaths (at the time of writing) reported on the US Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System database alone – viz. OpenVAERS.
The WHO and aligned health authorities which have attempted to control the narrative have consistently denied the role of combination, early treatments of covid-19, such as those involving ivermectin, vitamin D, quercetin (as suggested for example by the Front Line Covid-19 Critical Care Alliance that have saved many thousands of lives) as misinformation.
In fact, anything said that suggests ivermectin might play any beneficial role, is misinformation, despite the fact that the whopping 93 studies conducted to-date suggest on average a 62% improvement in outcomes in relation to covid-19 compared with controls. Even reporting the results of all available studies that shows 12 out of the top 20 most studied, effective interventions as being natural, as listed on c19early.com would be disallowed, and c19early.com itself would not be viewed as authoritative despite its unique curation of data of public health relevance. Not because these treatments don’t work, simply because they don’t concur with the often ineffective, generally expensive, and sometimes dangerous antiviral and genetic vaccine strategies endorsed by the WHO that are central to the pharmaceutical industry’s game plan.
Two voices that WHO doesn’t want you to hear
Given the Vosoughi et al study funded by Twitter isn’t relevant to the covid era, why do we say you shouldn’t trust the WHO as the ultimate arbiter of health-related truth?
Let me give you powerful perspectives from two different individuals, ones that run counter to the narrative that will never see the light of a boosted post on YouTube. Preventing such information being seen alongside the opposing views of the WHO prevents discourse, and discourse is integral to science itself. Quite literally, society is abandoning science and replacing it with scientism, and scientism, some say, is a necessary precursor to transhumanism. Sadly, most have yet to realise that when they hear their health authorities telling them they’re “following the science“, they really mean they’re “following scientism“.
Of the examples I offer you, the first is from none other than the executive editor of the BMJ, Dr Kamran Abbasi. In 2020, Abbasi wrote an editorial entitled “When good science is suppressed by the medical-political complex, people die”.
Quoting from his final paragraph, Dr Abbasi says:
“Politicisation of science was enthusiastically deployed by some of history’s worst autocrats and dictators, and it is now regrettably commonplace in democracies. The medical-political complex tends towards suppression of science to aggrandise and enrich those in power. And, as the powerful become more successful, richer, and further intoxicated with power, the inconvenient truths of science are suppressed. When good science is suppressed, people die.”
This kind of statement, however true it might be, is definitely not congruent with the WHO’s view or YouTube’s Community Guidelines. Sadly, it will therefore only be read or heard by a few.
Following is a video clip we’ve extracted from an interview recorded a few days ago with another doctor for whom I have a great deal of respect, Dr Jackie Stone, from Zimbabwe. Dr Stone has been hounded like few others, for nothing other than her relentless adherence to the principles of good doctoring and sound medical bioethics, regardless of the consequences. She will tomorrow go to her fourth hearing in front of Zimbabwe’s Medical Council which aims to imprison and criminalise her for using ivermectin and a specific and safe form of nano silver to save lives during the covid-19 ‘crisis’.
Please consider writing respectfully to Vice President and Minister Hon Dr Constantino Chiwenga at the following email email@example.com or tweeting @MoHCCZim. Consider requesting that the Zimbabwe government pardons Dr Stone and acknowledges the huge contribution she has made during her decades of service as well as to saving lives at risk from HIV and C19, not to mention her commitment to sound medical ethics.
Sadly it’s not just a doctor in Zimbabwe who is under attack. Dr Peter McCullough, previously one of the most highly respected cardiologists in the world, has just been stripped (here and here) of his two board certifications and the editorship of a major journal, Cardiorenal Medicine and Reviews. All for speaking out about early combination treatments, the harms of covid-19 genetic vaccines, and providing therapies for those harmed by the vaccines.
These are other cases like them provide us with a stark reminder of why we so desperately need to defend free speech. They also prompt us to rejoice in, and applaud, the growing number of ethically-minded doctors and other health professionals and scientists, as well as new media communication channels, that have maintained their independence from the narrow, pharma-controlled tramlines set by the WHO and Google — often at huge cost to themselves.
We have well and truly entered a new fight for independence. This time it’s not for territory, but for independence of body, health and mind. We can’t afford to not win it.
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