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YouTube suspends Sky News Australia for COVID-19 misinformation

YouTube has suspended Sky News Australia for spreading misinformation on COVID-19.

The suspension prohibits the media outlet from uploading videos to their channel for seven days.

This comes after several videos were posted which “denied the existence of COVID-19”, with some even encouraging people to use medicines such as “hydroxychloroquine … [and] ivermectin” to treat the disease.

Sky News Australia
Image: shop.skynews.com.au

Despite claims, doctors have labelled these medications as ineffective against the virus.

The move sees Sky News Australia receive its first strike on their channel.

YouTube assesses itself by analysing channels and issuing strikes against those who upload harmful content.

If a channel receives three strikes within “the same 90-day period”, the channel will be permanently terminated.

In this case, Sky News Australia violated YouTube’s policy regarding COVID-19.

“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,” said a YouTube spokesperson when speaking to The Guardian.

“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.”

The media outlet issued a statement on the matter. In it, they stated that no on-camera personalities have: “ever denied the existence of COVID-19 as was implied, and no such videos were ever published or removed”.

A spokesperson for Sky News Australia further reiterated the company’s innocence and desire for informative discussions.

However, they did review their channel and found old videos that went against YouTube’s current policies.

“We support broad discussion and debate on a wide range of topics and perspectives, which is vital to any democracy … We take our commitment to meeting editorial and community expectations seriously,” the spokesperson said.

With its 1.86 million subscribers and highly opinionated videos, the company’s YouTube channel is a reliable source of “revenue stream from Google”.

It prides itself on bringing “real news, [and] honest views” to the public.

The company and its on-camera talent have found themselves in hot water for that mentality.

Sky News Australia had to issue an apology on July 19, after regular broadcaster, Alan Jones, downplayed the severity of COVID-19’s Delta variant, and the efficacy of vaccines, in an interview.