YouTube said it suspended right-wing channel One America News for one week, beginning Tuesday, for violating its policy against misinformation related to the covid-19 pandemic and temporarily stripped the channel of its ability to make money from other videos.
The action against OAN, which President Trump’s allies have praised in recent weeks while raging against Fox News for supposed disloyalty during and after this month’s election, was the latest sign that Silicon Valley was prepared to enforce policies against false and misleading information — even against those aligned with the president.
YouTube spokeswoman Ivy Choi said OAN, which has 1.2 million subscribers on the video service and sees some of its posts reach hundreds of thousands of viewers, violated the policy against portraying a covid-19 remedy as a cure for the illness that has killed more than 258,000 Americans and 1.4 million people worldwide.
In addition to losing the ability to post new videos for the coming week, OAN has been suspended from YouTube’s “Partner Program,” which allows monetization of videos through advertisements and can be a significant source of revenue to online operations. The reason, Choi said, was “repeated violations” of YouTube’s policies against covid misinformation.
“After careful review, we removed a video from OAN and issued a strike on the channel for violating our COVID-19 misinformation policy, which prohibits content claiming there’s a guaranteed cure,” Choi said in a statement Tuesday afternoon.
OAN did not immediately respond to a request for comment through contact information listed on its YouTube page.
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Google, which owns YouTube, has joined other leading tech companies this year in enforcing increasingly strict rules against misinformation that may confuse people about the nature, spread and treatments of the novel coronavirus. The companies adopted the policies in February, taking a tougher line than they traditionally had against purely political disinformation, on the argument that medical matters can be more readily backed by scientific authorities.
This has sparked a loud, sustained backlash from Trump and other Republicans who have claimed, without offering systematic evidence, that Silicon Valley is biased against conservative voices.
OAN has in recent weeks broken with mainstream news organizations in presenting Trump’s claims of widespread voter fraud as credible, even as such claims have been repeatedly dismissed by elections officials, numerous courts and news reports scrutinizing the available evidence. The top headline on the OAN website Tuesday afternoon read, “Trump Campaign Continues To Fight As More Evidence Of Voter Fraud Emerges,” even as growing numbers of Republicans distanced themselves from such claims and urged Trump to move forward with the transition to President-elect Joe Biden.
Tech firms take a hard line against coronavirus myths. But what about other types of misinformation?