Henderson Co. leaders claim ‘big tech’ violating free speech

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HENDERSON COUNTY, N.C. (WSPA) – Henderson County is trying to take on big tech. Commissioners there claim a video of their most recent meeting that was taken down from YouTube, is violating freedom of speech.

During public comment at the beginning of a recent Henderson County Board of Commissioners meeting, a handful of residents made unverified claims about the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine.

“The biggest atrocity is forcing humans to allow gene-alternating and toxic materials to be injected in good faith,” said a Henderson County Resident during a Henderson County Board of Commissioners meeting.

That’s a comment from just one of the people who spoke up during the county’s latest Board of Commissioners meeting. As usual, the entire meeting was posted to YouTube.

That’s when the controversy started.

“It didn’t take long, a matter of a few hours when the video was taken down on the YouTube platform. We received a notice from YouTube that the video wasn’t suitable to their standards,” said Henderson County Chairman, William Lapsley.

Chairman of the Henderson County Board of Commissioners, William Lapsley told 7 News, they were told those standards violated were during this public comment period over misinformation about the vaccine.

Lapsley said the commissioners believe, it’s violating freedom of speech.

“The commissioners voted unanimously to notify YouTube that we would no longer use their platform to post the videos of the commission meeting,” Lapsley told us.

Other than using a different domain to post their meetings, they’re also encouraging Henderson County School leaders to scout out alternative sources in the future for Chromebooks, that don’t support Google.

“Will we make any difference? Probably not but we think the citizens of Henderson County have the right to be heard,” said Lapsley.

Some people walking the streets of downtown Hendersonville told 7 News, YouTube has every right to take the video down.

Others like Jesi Barrett believe the county’s response is over the top.

“Of all the misinformation out there, this is what they’re worried about?,” asked Henderson County Resident, Jesi Barrett.

A spokesperson with Youtube did respond to 7 News’ questions. You can find the full information they sent us below:

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, we established clear policies to prevent the spread of misinformation that could lead to real-world harm. While we welcome open debate and discussion about the COVID-19 vaccines on our platform, we don’t allow content that includes claims the vaccines have killed thousands of people, and as such we removed a video from the Henderson County Board of Commissioners’ channel,” said a YouTube Spokesperson.

According to YouTube:

  • YouTube removes content that violates our Community Guidelines. We developed our COVID-19 misinformation policies in accordance with local and global health authorities in order to remove content that poses a serious risk of egregious harm when it comes to COVID-19 treatment, prevention, transmission, and social distancing.
    • Specific to the Henderson County Board of Commissioners video, we don’t allow content that claims the COVID-19 vaccines will kill people who receive it.
  • We make exceptions for content that has sufficient countervailing context
    • Under these exceptions, the content must also include audio or imagery directly refuting the claims or gives weight to the consensus from health and medical authorities that the claims are untrue.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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