YouTube suspends Sky News Australia channel

Author: AFP

YouTube said Sunday it had barred Sky News Australia from uploading new content for one week, citing concerns about Covid-19 misinformation.

The move comes after a review of posts uploaded by the Rupert Murdoch-owned TV channel, which has a substantial online presence. “We have clear and established Covid-19 medical misinformation policies… to prevent the spread of Covid-19 misinformation that could cause real-world harm,” a YouTube statement said. With 1.86 million YouTube subscribers, the channel — which is owned by a subsidiary of Murdoch’s News Corp — has a conservative following well beyond Australia. Its posts, including some questioning whether there is a pandemic and the efficacy of vaccines, are widely shared on social media forums around the world that spread virus and vaccine misinformation. The last YouTube upload, from three days ago, features a host claiming that lockdowns have failed and criticising state authorities for extending Sydney’s current stay-at-home orders.

Sky News confirmed the temporary ban and a spokesperson said “we support broad discussion and debate on a wide range of topics and perspectives which is vital to any democracy”. “We take our commitment to meeting editorial and community expectations seriously.”

YouTube has a “three strikes” policy on violations, with the first resulting in a one-week suspension, a second strike within 90 days producing a two-week ban, while a third means permanent removal from the platform. Former US president Donald Trump was temporarily banned under the policy. YouTube is owned by Google parent company Alphabet.

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