YouTube temporarily suspends OANN account after spreading coronavirus misinformation
YouTube has suspended the pro-Trump One America News Network from posting new videos for a week, and the outlet has had its old content demonetized after uploading a video containing misinformation about the coronavirus, YouTube spokesperson Ivy Choi confirmed to The Hill on Tuesday.
The weeklong suspension is the result of a “strike” issued for saying that there is a guaranteed cure for COVID-19, a claim that runs afoul of YouTube’s coronavirus-specific policy.
The demonetization came as a result of “repeated violations of our COVID-19 misinformation policy and other channel monetization policies,” Choi said. Axios first reported on the suspension and demonetization.
“Early on in this pandemic, we’ve worked to prevent the spread of harmful misinformation associated with COVID-19 on YouTube,” she added.
YouTube did not immediately respond to questions about how many strikes OANN had previously accrued. The channel has been criticized for spreading myriad lies about the pandemic and the election.
False claims about the result of the election are not explicitly banned by the video-sharing platform’s policies.
In order to start making money off videos again, the network will have to reapply for the YouTube Partner Program.
President Trump and his allies have escalated their promotion of OANN as an alternative to Fox News in the aftermath of his electoral loss.
“Many great alternatives are forming & exist. Try @OANN & @newsmax, among others!” the president tweeted Sunday, referring to another right-wing network.
YouTube has been under pressure from lawmakers and academics to take more action against misinformation on its platform.
Earlier Tuesday, Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) sent a letter to YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki urging her to take down “all election outcome misinformation” and implement prohibitions on that kind of content like other major social media companies have done.
“As you know, on January 5, 2021, Georgia voters will cast their ballots in two runoff elections for Georgia’s U.S. Senate seats,” they wrote. “YouTube and its industry peers must take responsibility and immediately stop the spread of misinformation and manipulated media on their platforms.”