Sky News Australia has been barred from uploading content to YouTube for seven days after “violating medical misinformation policies” by posting a number of videos denying the existence of Covid-19 or encouraging people to use hydroxychloroquine or ivermectin.
Youtube imposed the ban on Thursday afternoon and not disclosed which Sky News program the videos were from but said there were “numerous” offending videos which have now been removed.
Sky News Australia’s YouTube channel, which has 1.85 million subscribers, has been issued a strike and will be unable to upload new videos or livestreams for the next week.
Sky News Australia said it “expressly rejects” claims that any hosts ever denied the existence of Covid-19 and that “no such videos were ever published or removed”.
The broadcaster said “a review of old videos published to the channel” had uncovered material that did not comply with YouTube’s policies.
“We support broad discussion and debate on a wide range of topics and perspectives which is vital to any democracy,” a Sky News Australia spokesperson said.
“We take our commitment to meeting editorial and community expectations seriously.”
Videos that did not violate policies and were posted prior to Thursday are still available online. Three strikes in the same 90-day period will result in the permanent removal of a channel from YouTube.
“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 that could cause real-world harm,” a YouTube spokesperson told Guardian Australia.
“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.
“Specifically, we don’t allow content that denies the existence of Covid-19 or that encourages people to use hydroxychloroquine or ivermectin to treat or prevent the virus. We do allow for videos that have sufficient countervailing context, which the violative videos did not provide.”
Sky’s YouTube channel has grown in two years from 70,000 subscribers to 1.85m, which is higher than ABC News or any other local media company.
One of the most popular videos, with 4.6m views, is Jones’s “Australians must know the truth – this virus is not a pandemic”, which was posted at the height of the pandemic last year.
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