YouTube bans Sky News Australia for a week over COVID misinformation

London: Google-owned video sharing platform YouTube has restrained Sky News Australia from uploading new videos or live streams for a week over spreading of misinformation on Covid-19 pandemic, media reports said on Sunday.

YouTube did not disclose which videos were spreading misinformation, but stated there were “numerous”, the Guardian reported.

The video sharing platform said that it doesn’t “allow content that denies the existence of Covid-19 or that encourages people to use hydroxychloroquine or ivermectin to treat or prevent the virus”.

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“We do allow for videos that have sufficient countervailing context, which the violative videos did not provide,” a YouTube spokesperson was quoted as saying to Guardian Australia.

However, Sky News Australia said it “expressly rejects” claims that any hosts ever denied the existence of Covid-19 and that “no such videos were ever published or removed”, the report said.

The TV channel’s YouTube channel with 1.85m subscribers was also issued a strike, under Youtube’s three-strike policy. A third “strike” in the same 90-day period will mean permanent removal from the video sharing platform.

“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,” the spokesperson said.

“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,” the spokesperson added.

Sky News is, owned by a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, and the temporary ban will impact its revenue stream from Google.

The ban was triggered after veteran Sky presenter Alan Jones on July 12 with MP Craig Kelly claimed Delta Covid variant was not as dangerous as the original and vaccines would not help. Australia’s Daily Telegraph last week ended the column Jones wrote for it. The Sky News website issued an apology on July 19.

Meanwhile, the TV channel’s digital editor said the decision was a disturbing attack on the ability to think freely, the BBC reported quoting an article on the Sky News Australia website.

If conversation about Australia’s Covid-19 policies were stifled “our political leaders will be free to act with immunity, without justification and lacking any sufficient scrutiny from the public”, Jack Houghton wrote.

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