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Mexican president slams YouTube for taking down his video that shared a journalist鈥檚 phone number

FILE - Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador arrives for his daily news conference at the presidential palace in Mexico City, March 24, 2020. Lopez Obrador lashed out at social media platform YouTube on Monday, Feb. 26, 2024, for taking down part of his daily news briefing where he revealed a reporter鈥檚 phone number. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte, File)

FILE - Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador arrives for his daily news conference at the presidential palace in Mexico City, March 24, 2020. Lopez Obrador lashed out at social media platform YouTube on Monday, Feb. 26, 2024, for taking down part of his daily news briefing where he revealed a reporter鈥檚 phone number. (AP Photo/Marco Ugarte, File)

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MEXICO CITY (AP) 鈥 Mexico鈥檚 president again lashed out at social media platform YouTube on Monday for taking down part of his daily news briefing where he revealed a reporter鈥檚 phone number.

President Andr茅s Manuel L贸pez Obrador said the platform in Mexico 鈥渉as been taken over by conservatives,鈥 accused it of censorship and claimed YouTube 鈥渋s in full decline.鈥

It marked the latest chapter in the Mexican president鈥檚 love-hate relationship with social media. L贸pez Obrador鈥檚 YouTube channel has 4.2 million subscribers, and the president gives preference to social media blogs and news sites at his briefings, often answering questions only from them.

Press freedom groups said the president鈥檚 decision to make public the phone number of a New York Times reporter Thursday was an attempt to punish critical reporting, and exposed the reporter to potential danger.

The row started when L贸pez Obrador took offense at a about a U.S. inquiry into claims that people close to him took money from drug traffickers shortly before his 2018 election and again after he was president.

As is common practice, the Times reporter had sent a letter to L贸pez Obrador鈥檚 spokesman asking for the president鈥檚 comment on the story before it was published, and included her telephone number as a means of contacting her.

At his daily press briefing that day, the president displayed the letter on a large screen and read it aloud, including her phone number.

While Mexican law prohibits officials from revealing personal information about people, L贸pez Obrador said 鈥渢he political and moral authority of the president of Mexico is above that law.鈥

YouTube said in a statement that 鈥渙ur harassment policies strictly prohibit content that reveals someone鈥檚 personally identifiable information, including their phone number. Upon review, we have removed and issued a strike to the channels containing the video that violate this policy.鈥

In a statement posted, not unsurprisingly, on YouTube, the president wrote Sunday that 鈥渢his is an arrogant and authoritarian attitude. They are in full decline.鈥

At the beginning of his administration, L贸pez Obrador frequently praised the 鈥渂lessed social media鈥 as an outlet to get around the supposed domination of conservative points of view in newspapers and radio stations.

But L贸pez Obrador has since alleged conspiracies against him involving bots and organized social media campaigns.

L贸pez Obrador engaged in similar accusations against X, formerly known as Twitter, in 2021. The Mexican leader had a warm relationship with former U.S. President Donald Trump and protested Twitter鈥檚 decision to suspend Trump鈥檚 account.

At the time, L贸pez Obrador accused one of Twitter鈥檚 representatives in Mexico of having previously worked for politicians of the conservative opposition National Action Party.

The president also frequently criticizes environmentalists, non-governmental organizations and regulatory agencies.

The doxxing of the reporter last week did have an unintended effect: After L贸pez Obrador defended his move and said the reporter should just change her phone number, it sparked leaks of mobile phone numbers of the two main presidential candidates and several top politicians.

X贸chitl G谩lvez, the opposition candidate in the June 2 presidential election, said her phone number had been made public and that she had received about 18,000 messages since last week, including 鈥渟ome strong threats.鈥

But she decided to keep the line open, and agreed with YouTube鈥檚 position.

鈥淲hat the president has to recognize is that he violated privacy laws, and on social media, the law is respected,鈥 G谩lvez said.

The president appeared unapologetic Monday, casting it as a freedom of expression issue, saying that 鈥渨e have said it before, liberty is sublime.鈥

He made it clear he wouldn鈥檛 close his social media accounts in retaliation, saying that 鈥測ou don鈥檛 leave the parade (until) you get kicked out.鈥