YouTube temporarily suspends Sky News Australia for spreading COVID-19 misinformation - MrLiambi's blog


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Monday 2 August 2021

YouTube temporarily suspends Sky News Australia for spreading COVID-19 misinformation

YouTube issued Sky News Australia a temporary suspension, but it could become permanent if the channel doesn't change its ways.

YouTube has temporarily suspended Sky News Australia's account, citing the video sharing platform's policies regarding COVID-19 misinformation. Sky News is basically the equivalent of Fox News in Australia, so this isn't terribly surprising â€" however it's a milestone not even Fox has achieved.

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 publication (not to be confused with Sky News UK), which has 1.86 million subscribers to its channel. YouTube counted for half of Sky News Australia's digital reach as of December last year.

"We have clear and established COVID-19 medical misinformation policies based on local and global health authority guidance, to prevent the spread of COVID-19 misinformation that could cause real-world harm," a YouTube spokesperson told Mashable. "We apply our policies equally for everyone regardless of uploader, and in accordance with these policies and our long-standing strikes system, removed videos from and issued a strike to Sky News Australia's channel."

Under YouTube's COVID-19 medical misinformation policy, content which spreads medical misinformation that contradicts health authorities' guidance on the disease is banned. This most obviously includes videos that deny COVID-19 even exists, but also encompasses misinformation concerning treatment, prevention, diagnosis, transmission, and social distancing and self-isolation guidelines.

Interestingly, while YouTube's policy explicitly prohibits "claims that Hydroxychloroquine is an effective treatment for COVID-19", Mashable was able to locate at least one Sky News Australia video that is still spreading this false claim. Mashable has contacted YouTube for further comment.

Sky News Australia acknowledged its YouTube ban in an article/statement on their website, which was subsequently shared with Mashable.

"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," the statement said.

The publication did not comment on the other transgressions covered by YouTube's policy which fall short of outright COVID-19 denial.

Even after the channel's one-week timeout is over, it still won't be completely in the clear. Under YouTube's three-strikes system, Sky News Australia could receive a second suspension that's twice as long if it earns a second strike within 90 days of its first. And if it earns a third strike within that same period, then the entire channel will be permanently removed.

Of course, considering it took this long for Sky News Australia to be suspended, this may not be a problem.

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