Monday, September 20, 2021

YouTube suspends popular news broadcaster, citing ‘Covid-19 denial’

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Sky News Australia has been temporarily suspended by YouTube for uploading videos that the Google-owned video service claims violated its Covid-19 policies, the New York Post reports.

The 24-hour cable channel owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, saw its YouTube account go dark on Thursday after a review of the page’s content allegedly unveiled videos denying the existence of Covid-19 and encouraging people to use untested experimental drugs to treat the virus without context.

Sky News Australia’s suspension came into effect on July 29, and prevents the channel from uploading new videos for one week. It’s a significant hindrance for the broadcaster, which has nearly two million subscribers to its channel.

“Sky News Australia acknowledges YouTube’s right to enforce its policies and looks forward to continuing to publish its popular news and analysis content to its subscribers shortly,” Sky News said in a statement on its website.

A YouTube spokesman said the clips were removed from the platform and the TV channel suspended “in accordance with our long-standing strikes system”.

Sky News digital editor Jack Houghton defended the videos in a column on their website.

“Among the videos deemed unpalatable for societal consumption were debates around whether masks were effective and whether lockdowns were justified when considering their adverse health outcomes,” Houghton wrote.

“The stance taken by some commentators at this network was that masks are not effective in containing outbreaks, particularly when mandated outside in the fresh air. Some also took issue with the frequency and mechanisms of locking down Australians. Other commentators vehemently disagreed, and their views were also published.”

Houghton claimed “most” of the removed content was from 2020, and that YouTube “is looking at the debates and discussions through the lens of contemporary health advice”.

Mashable is reporting that while YouTube’s policy explicitly prohibits “claims that Hydroxychloroquine is an effective treatment for Covid-19”, they were able to locate at least one Sky News Australia video that is still spreading this false claim. Mashable has contacted YouTube for further comment.

In its website statement, Sky News Australia denied any fault, saying:

“Sky News Australia expressly rejects that any host has ever denied the existence of Covid-19 as was implied, and no such videos were ever published or removed.”

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