YouTube temporarily suspended and demonetized cable channel One America News Network (OANN) after it reportedly uploaded a video promoting a fake COVID-19 cure.
The week-long ban, as reported by Axios, means OANN can’t post new videos, live streams, or stories for the next seven days. It has also been stripped of its ability to earn money off existing content.
“After careful review, we removed a video from OANN and issued a strike on the channel for violating our COVID-19 misinformation policy, which prohibits content claiming there’s a guaranteed cure,” YouTube spokesperson Ivy Choi said in an emailed statement. OANN is also suspended from the YouTube Partner Program, which enables revenue sharing from ads served on your content. If it wants to monetize videos again, it will have to reapply.
“YouTube took the extreme action of censoring a national cable news network for a video that was ‘unlisted’ and not available publicly on YouTube,” according to OANN’s statement, tweeted by anchor Alex Salvi. “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.”
YouTube’s three-strike policy provides some leeway for users to screw up before their account is terminated. This is OANN’s first strike, but, as Axios pointed out, it has previously violated the platform’s COVID-19 misinformation policy (which prohibits claiming there is a guaranteed cure for the virus). Any further infractions will result in more strikes.
Full privileges are restored automatically after the one-week period, but each strike remains on the channel for 90 days. Three strikes in three months and you’re out. One America News Network, according to Salvi, has been “flooded” with viewer comments “thanking OAN for its reporting and encouraging us not to be intimidated by Google.”
In addition to an existing policy banning harmful novel coronavirus misinformation, YouTube last month announced plans to crack down on baseless claims about a future vaccine. Over the course of nine months, the platform removed more than 200,000 videos “related to dangerous or misleading COVID-19 information,” it said in October.
Pandemic propaganda isn’t the only enemy of the video-sharing service: Four Democratic senators this week sent a letter to YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, urging her company to do more to curb election misinformation ahead of the upcoming Georgia run-off vote.