YouTube has suspended the conservative news outlet One America News Network from posting new videos for a week and from making money off of its existing videos after it promoted a sham cure for Covid-19.
The video was removed under YouTube’s policies to prevent the spread of Covid-19 misinformation, which prohibit saying there is a guaranteed cure to the virus. OANN has been suspended for “repeated violations” of this policy, said YouTube spokesperson Ivy Choi.
“Since early in this pandemic, we’ve worked to prevent the spread of harmful misinformation associated with Covid-19 on YouTube,” Choi said.
YouTube’s Covid-specific misinformation policies prohibit content that disputes the existence of the virus, discourages someone from seeking medical treatment for Covid, disputes guidance from local health authorities on the pandemic, or offers unsubstantiated medical advice or treatment.
Under these policies, an offending account will receive one warning for posting misinformation and then three strikes before it is permanently removed from the platform. The strikes carry progressively more severe penalties, including de-monetization. OANN previously received a warning for “similarly violating our Covid-19 misinformation policy,” according to YouTube.
The company said it has manually reviewed and removed 200,000 videos related to dangerous or misleading Covid-19 information since February 2020, including for example a widely condemned viral video published by rightwing media outlet Breitbart featuring dubious claims from people identifying themselves as doctors, telling people not to wear masks.
While the suspension from posting new videos is temporary, YouTube says the de-monitization of all OANN content will be permanent, unless the network addresses its issues.
Tuesday’s removal comes after four Democratic senators sent a letter Tuesday to YouTube’s chief executive officer, Susan Wojcicki, pressing the company to do more to crack down on election-related misinformation.
Meanwhile, after breaking with longtime ally Fox News, Donald Trump has urged his supporters to turn to news outlets such as Newsmax and OANN. These outlets openly support Trump and, without evidence, cast doubt on the validity of the election of Joe Biden. YouTube said it does not consider OANN an “authoritative news source”, meaning under its policies the account will not surface high up in search results for broad queries about Covid-19 nor be promoted in recommendations.