Sky News Australia has been banned from posting new videos or livestreams on YouTube as a result of Covid-19 coverage which the platform says breached misinformation guidelines.
The week-long strike was issued on Thursday after a review of Sky News Australia’s channel alleged that it hosted content which denied the existence of Covid-19 and encouraged people to use hydroxychloroquine or ivermectin to treat coronavirus, without providing countervailing context.
A spokesperson for YouTube confirmed the suspension: “We apply our policies equally for everyone 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.”
Under YouTube’s three-strike system two further strikes would result in the channel being permanently removed from the platform.
In a statement on its website, Sky News said “Sky News Australia acknowledges YouTube’s right to enforce its policies and looks forward to continuing to publish its popular news and analysis content to its subscribers shortly.”
However, Sky News’ Digital Editor Jack Houghton hit back at YouTube’s decision which he described as a ‘disturbing’ affront on freedom of expression. He said, “YouTube’s approach to policing debate around Covid-19 policies appears arbitrarily focused against conservative voices.”
Sky News Australia denies that any videos denying the existence of Covid-19 were published on its channel, which has 1.86 million subscribers.
The digital giant’s decision to issue the strike is not the first to cause controversy in recent months. In January 2021, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook suspended the accounts of former-US-President Donald Trump following the Capitol riots.