Sky News Australia YouTube account suspended, digital editor labels it ‘disturbing attack’ on free thinking

Sky News Australia’s YouTube account, which has over 1.8 million subscribers, has been banned from posting videos for seven days.

The ban comes after YouTube deemed the account to have breached COVID-19 misinformation policies set by the Alaphabet Inc-owned platform (Google).


“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,” a YouTube spokesperson told Mumbrella. “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.”

On Sunday afternoon, Sky News Australia acknowledged the ban on its website, stating it came following a “review of old videos published to the channel,” also stating that YouTube is within its rights to enforce its policies, as it “looks forward to continuing to publish its popular news and analysis content” in the future.

Sky News rejected that any host had ever denied the existence of COVID-19, “as was implied, and no such videos were ever published”.

However later in the day, Sky News Australia’s digital editor, Jack Houghton wrote an opinion piece arguing that the crackdown from YouTube was “a disturbing attack on the ability to think freely”.

Houghton’s opinion on the suspension

Houghton cited crackdowns on free-speech resulting in the events of “Holodomor, Auschwitz and Mao” as three historical examples. In the article, Houghton also took aim at Anthony Fauci, president Joe Biden and Queensland chief health officer Jeanette Young.

The one-week suspension by YouTube follows a review of content for compliance with YouTube’s policies on COVID-19 which are subject to change in response to changes to global or local health authority guidance on the virus.

According to YouTube, the website does not allow medical misinformation about COVID-19 that poses a serious risk of harm, that contradicts local and global health authorities’ guidance about COVID-19 treatment, prevention, transmission, and social distancing.

It also insists that the policies are applied consistently, regardless of uploader, and that with this strike, the channel is temporarily suspended from uploading new videos or live streams for one week.

According to YouTube policy, the strike will remain for 90 days, with a second strike during that period resulting in a two week ban. A third strike would result in permanent ban for the channel.

The strike was issued on Thursday 29 July, with full privileges set to be restored this Thursday 5 August.

It was not disclosed which videos in particular had breached YouTube’s policies, however the “numerous” videos have now been removed.

This also came in the same week that News Corp outlet, The Daily Telegraph pulled Alan Jones’ regular column following controversial commentary over the COVID-19 pandemic.

The ban was announced on the same day that News Corp’s new regional broadcasting service, Sky News Regional was launched.


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