Garrett Soldano, GOP Governor Candidate, Permanently Banned From YouTube

A Republican Michigan gubernatorial hopeful says he's been permanently banned from YouTube. Critics believe it is because he spread misinformation around the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Detroit News reported that Garrett Soldano, a chiropractor from Kalamazoo County, received an email from YouTube early on Monday saying that his channel included "severe or repeated violations" of the company's community guidelines.

YouTube didn't identify which specific policies the anti-lockdown activist had broken, but the guidelines prohibit content "that contradicts local health authorities' or the World Health Organization's medical information about COVID-19."

A local medical professional applauded the decision, which they said was necessary due to Soldano making videos that contained false messaging against COVID-19.

Dr. Farhan Bhatti, a family physician in Lansing and Michigan State Lead for the Committee to Protect Health Care Physicians, said in a statement: "Physicians like me on the front lines continue to persuade adults and eligible children to take the safe, effective vaccine and wear masks."

"On top of caring for sick patients, we need all the help we can get to combat COVID-19 falsehoods. While doctors and nurses are facing threats from misinformed patients, Soldano has been stoking the fire against us and endangering the lives of his supporters for political gain. We hope other platforms will follow suit to hold Soldano accountable for his dangerous online communications and help us prevent more deaths due to COVID-19," he added.

Soldano, meanwhile, said his YouTube ban was due to "big tech oligarchs silencing conservative voices".

"As a grassroots candidate for governor, we rely on platforms to connect with voters and share our message, and our campaign has been targeted repeatedly by liberal social media giants," Soldano said in a statement confirming his ban.

Soldano has a chance to appeal YouTube's decision.

However, Newsweek has found several accounts still on YouTube that appear to be linked to Soldano's campaign.

The lawmaker has regularly posted videos on Facebook, TikTok and YouTube since last spring, when the pandemic began.

Many of his videos involve him criticising Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's COVID-19 policies and some involve Soldano making unsubstantiated claims about the pandemic, including, those who have suffered with COVID-19 don't need to be vaccinated.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that people who have already had the virus still get vaccinated, as they might contract it again.

Some of the videos also suggest the vaccines are not as effective as advertised. One video of Soldano mocking Chief White House Medical Advisor Dr Anthony Fauci and Whitmer was removed on TikTok, The Verge reported.

Soldano has also been critical of mask mandates, calling masks "face diapers", despite CDC advice for all people to wear them inside in K-12 schools.

Newsweek has contacted Soldano for comment.

It isn't the first time Soldano has been shut down on the internet. At the beginning of the pandemic last year, he founded a group called Michiganders Against Excessive Quarantine, which gained more than 380,000 followers before Facebook shut down the page.

Soldano said at the time that Facebook had flagged it for violating standards against advocating the spread of COVID-19.

Soldano is one of 11 Michigan Republicans who have formed fundraising committees since the last election to run for governor in 2022. The election will take place on November 8, 2022, while the primaries are slated for August.

Detroit Police Chief James Craig is considered to be a frontrunner in the GOP primary.

The YouTube logo is seen outside the YouTube Space studios in London, taken on June 4, 2019. A Republican Michigan gubernatorial hopeful says he’s been permanently been banned from YouTube. Olly Curtis/Future/Getty Images