YouTube has suspended Rupert Murdoch’s Sky News Australia for one week for violating its policies concerning COVID-19 misinformation.
The video hosting site said in a statement Sunday that the suspension was dealt over videos allegedly denying the existence of COVID-19 and encouraging people to use untested experimental drugs like hydroxychloroquine to treat the virus.
“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,” a YouTube spokesperson said in a statement to Reuters.
“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,” Sky News said in a statement on its website.
In a column defending the network, Sky News digital editor Jack Houghton said that although most of the offending videos were from last year, YouTube “is looking at the debates and discussions through the lens of contemporary health advice.”
“The stance taken by some commentators at this network was that masks are not effective in containing outbreaks, particularly when mandated outside in the fresh air. Some also took issue with the frequency and mechanisms of locking down Australians,” Houghton wrote. “Other commentators vehemently disagreed, and their views were also published.”
“It is hard not to look at some of these tech giant censorship decisions as being based on one factor, the political persuasion of the person making the comments,” Houghton continued.
The suspension comes as the Murdochs’ News Corp Australia deals with internal and external pressure over its COVID-19 coverage. Earlier this week, The Daily Telegraph chose to shutdown a weekly column by right-wing commentator Alan Jones after he appeared on Sky News and insulted New South Wales chief health officer Kerry Chant, saying “How many villages are missing their idiot?” over her decision to place lockdown orders on the region amidst rising case numbers.