YouTube Suspends One America News Network For Covid-19 Misinformation
One America News Network, the right-wing news channel favoured by President Trump, has been temporarily suspended and demonetised by YouTube for spreading misinformation about Covid-19.
The channel, often referred to as OANN, has been barred from the video platform for one week after falsely promoting a cure for the virus.
The move is one of the most high-profile examples yet of YouTube clamping down on fake news being published on its platform. In recent years, YouTube has become a hotbed for conspiracy theories and extremist content, with The New York Times’ Zeynep Tufekci warning that the site’s algorithm and autoplay feature has been leading ordinary viewers down a ‘rabbit hole’ of radicalisation.
The news comes just a few weeks after YouTube refused to remove another OANN video that claimed President Trump had won the election.
YouTube isn’t the only social media platform that has historically resisted calls to remove misleading content from its site. At a social media summit in February, Mark Zuckerberg defended Facebook’s own approach to content moderation, claiming as per Daily Mail that his site had a responsibility to ‘stand up for free expression’.
Since then, the twin challenges of the US election and coronavirus pandemic have forced big tech to confront its role in spreading fake news. Conspiracy theories and misinformation about both topics have gained traction through social media, leading many platforms to commit to taking a more hands-on approach to moderating potentially harmful content.
YouTube’s suspension of OANN falls under its Covid medical misinformation policy, which prohibits videos from publicising claims that there is a proven cure for the virus. A spokesperson for YouTube said it had taken action against OANN following ‘repeated violations’ of its policy, and that the suspension counted as ‘strike one’ of a three-strike system that could ultimately lead to channels being permanently taken offline.
A statement posted by an OANN reporter on Twitter following the news read:
YouTube took the extreme action of censoring a national cable news network for a video that was ‘unlisted’ and not available publicly on YouTube.
Although OAN will abide by YouTube’s requirements for any video made available on YouTube, OAN will not let YouTube’s arbitrary rules infringe upon its First Amendment editorial rights to inform the public.
OAN has been flooded with comments from viewers thanking OAN for its reporting and encouraging us not to be intimidated by Google.
While OANN’s suspension is initially set to last for just one week, The Guardian reports that YouTube will continue to demonetise future content published by the network unless it addresses their concerns.
OANN has risen to prominence over the last four years for its prominent support of Donald Trump, and has often been described as the President’s ‘favourite news network‘.
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