YouTube Bans Rupert Murdoch's Sky News Australia Over Covid Misinformation

YouTube has banned Sky News Australia from uploading any new content on the website for a week after it allegedly posted misinformation about coronavirus. The ban was imposed on Thursday afternoon.

YouTube Says Sky News Australia breached its COVID-19 Misinformation Policies

YouTube has issued a 'strike' against Sky News Australia, claiming the broadcaster breached its COVID-19 misinformation policies. This strike was issued by the online video platform under its three-strike policy, the last of which means permanent removal, reported BBC.

"We have clear and established Covid-19 medical misinformation policies... to prevent the spread of Covid-19 misinformation that could cause real-world harm," a statement by YouTube read. YouTube has not disclosed which Sky News program the videos were from but said there were "numerous" offending videos which have now been removed, reported the Guardian.

With 1.86 million YouTube subscribers, the channel is owned by a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.

Rupert Murdoch
Rupert Murdoch Mike Segar/Reuters

What Triggered the Ban?

This ban comes after YouTube reviewed some posts that were uploaded by the channel on the platform. Some of the questioned posts included videos where it was questioned by the Sky News Australia group whether the coronavirus pandemic existed or not and if the said efficacy of the vaccines was real.

Some media reports say that these videos were widely circulated on different social media platforms which can reportedly, add to the existing vaccine hesitancy and also make people take coronavirus pandemic as a joke.

The last YouTube upload, from three days ago, features a host claiming that lockdowns have failed and criticizing state authorities for extending Sydney's current stay-at-home orders, reported The Australian.

How Did the Sky News Respond?

"We support broad discussion and debate on a wide range of topics and perspectives which is vital to any democracy," Sky News's spokesperson said, confirming the temporary ban. "We take our commitment to meeting editorial and community expectations seriously."

A spokesperson told the Guardian it "did not allow content that denies the existence of Covid-19" or which encouraged people "to use hydroxychloroquine or ivermectin to treat or prevent the virus". Neither has been proven to be effective against Covid.

Covid Delta Variant
Covid Delta Variant Wikimedia Commons

The videos in question "did not provide sufficient countervailing context", the spokesperson said.

Sky News Australia said it had found old videos that did not comply with YouTube's policies and took its "commitment to meeting editorial and community expectations seriously". But it denied any of its hosts had ever denied the existence of Covid-19.

However, the TV channel's digital editor said the decision was a disturbing attack on the ability to think freely.

How Did Twitter Reacted To This Ban?

Some people on Twitter were not in favor of YouTube and said the censorship is in full swing. One user wrote, "Where is the freedom of speech gone? Oh, only if you are in line with the narrative!" Another said, "I like the channel but of course YouTube is censoring everyone that doesn't agree with them".

On the other hand, some netizens feel that YouTube has taken a good decision by banning Sky News. One Twitter user wrote, "Murdoch's creations Sky News & Fox get the gold medal for misinformation & conspiracy theories." Some netizens think that the Australian media is in the grip of Murdoch's monopoly.

Related topics : Coronavirus