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© Reuters / Lucy Nicholson
Screenshot allesaufdentisch.tv; (inset)
YouTubes censur af Covid-19-debat er et 'farligt indgreb' i ytringsfriheden, siger en redaktør ved det tyske tabloid Bild, efter at platformen slettede to videoer af en online-debat om pandemien.

Det foreløbige påbud blev udstedt af Kölns regionale domstol som svar på en juridisk udfordring fra folkene bag #allesaufdentisch (#EverythingOnTheTable) onlinekampagnen. Det er dybest set en samling interviews med forskellige eksperter og offentlige personer om Covid-19-pandemien, som initiativtagerne fremhævede som en 'vidtrækkende, faktabaseret, åben og saglig diskurs' på deres websted. Nogle af dem udfordrede regeringens håndtering af pandemien og rejste alle mulige kontroversielle vaccinerelaterede spørgsmål.

YouTube fandt to af disse interviews uegnede til hosting og slettede dem. De markerede videoer viste diskussioner med matematikprofessor Stephan Luckhaus og neurobiologen Gerald Huther. Retten kaldte YouTubes tiltag 'uberettiget' og sagde, at platformen ikke kunne forklare, hvilke nøjagtige dele af interviewene den vurderede i strid med sine fællesskabsregler for sundhedsrelateret indhold, ifølge tyske medier.


The explanation of why the videos were deleted was kept pretty vague, claiming that some opinions about the vaccination against Covid-19 went against the scientific consensus. Overall, the videos contained "a large number of clearly permissible statements", the court said, which gave credence to the plaintiffs' argument that YouTube had unfairly restricted their freedom of expression. The injunction said the court decision can be appealed.

The #allesaufdentisch campaign was launched in late September and was considered a spiritual successor of a similar #allesdichtmachen (#CloseEverythig) anti-lockdown online movement, which tilted more to satirical content.

Critics say the newer interviews are a mixture of justified criticism, trivialities and "targeted disinformation", as the daily Die Zeit described it. But many people believe the public deserves the right to see those opinions and judge their validity for themselves, without interference from American tech giants.

Jan Schafer, the political director of the influential German tabloid Bild, hailed the court's decision, calling YouTube's increasingly broad use of censorship a "dangerous encroachment" on public discourse in Germany.

Bild was the first to obtain and cover the court injunction on Sunday evening. It remains unclear how much influence the opinion of the German justice system will have on US-based Google, the owner of YouTube.

Last month, YouTube shut down two popular channels of RT DE, the Berlin-based German-language version of RT, using the same "Covid-19 misinformation" justification. The decision caused a major rift in German-Russian relationships, as Moscow accused Berlin of tacitly approving the move, if not orchestrating it behind the scene. Germany denied the allegation.

RT DE has been facing an increasingly hostile environment in Germany, with local banks refusing to serve it and some media outlets branding it a Russian propaganda arm bombarding Germans with misinformation. RT DE turned to German courts to defend its reputation from what it argued to be slanderous accusations, securing injunctions in its favor.

Bild was in no rush to defend RT DE from YouTube censorship. In fact, it described the erasure of its channels as a blow to "the central component of [Russian President Vladimir Putin's] disinformation campaign" and lamented that the channels' content remained available on other platforms, reaching "hundreds of thousands" of viewers.