After the Dresden Higher Regional Court in Germany demanded an injunction directing YouTube to re-upload the video in April 2020, the video platform neglected the ruling for nearly a month before complying on May 14, a "deliberate and serious violation," the court found, according to free speech group Reclaim the Net. YouTube told the court the video required it to be removed because it disrupted the company’s "medical misinformation policy," which YouTube has broadened since the outset of the pandemic to push content that includes claims about COVID-19 vaccinations that oppose health authorities' guidance. The court reportedly rejected this argument.
Sunday's fine "appears to be the highest on record in Germany," the group added.
"With the historically high fine, the Higher Regional Court makes it very clear that court decisions must be observed without restriction, regardless of whether YouTube assumes a violation of its guidelines or not," Joachim Steinhoefel, the reported attorney for the operator of the channel that owned the video, said, according to a Google translation. The name of the YouTube channel was not readily ostensible.
"This is a decision in an individual case which we respect and will review accordingly," the spokesperson added.
The idea that Big Tech platforms have been suppressing dissenting voices has become popular since former President Donald Trump was suspended from several platforms following the Jan. 6 Capitol Hill attack. Twitter, Facebook, and others said Trump's words and actions leading the attack incited violence and warranted removal.
While Trump's Facebook account may be reinstated someday, the company's independent Oversight Board announced in May that the ban would momentarily stay in place. On June 4, the board concluded that the ban would remain in place for at least two years.
Trump has countered, filing lawsuits last Wednesday against Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, asking for "an end to the shadow-banning, a stop to the silencing, and a stop to the blacklisting, banishing, and canceling that you know so well."
"While many Republicans think we should take one course, many Democrats think we should do the exact opposite. We've faced criticism from Republicans for being biased against conservatives and Democrats for not taking more steps to restrict the exact same content," a spokesperson for Facebook said in an email to the Washington Examiner. "We have rules in place to protect free expression, and we will continue to apply them impartially."