YouTube Suspends Sky News Australia For Coronavirus ‘Misinformation’

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Silicon Valley tech giant Youtube has banned the centre-right Sky News Australia network from uploading video content after being issued a strike for supposedly spreading “misinformation” about the Chinese coronavirus.

The Masters of the Universe tech company did not disclose which videos had violated their policies about the virus, however, YouTube states in its guidelines that videos that discuss topics that pose a serious risk of egregious harm in contradiction with local and global health authorities guidance about COVID-19 treatment, prevention, transmission, and social distancing may be removed.

The digital editor for Sky News Australia — which is separately run from the more left-wing British branch of the news network — Jack Houghton said that the suspension represented an attack on the fundamental human right of freedom of speech.

Houghton cited the United Nation’s Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states: Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

“This human right to be free to share your opinions through any media, whether it be criticisms of government policy, or disputing conventional thinking, is nearly absolute. But it is also fickle. And if we allow it easily snuffed out like many leaders have done before,” the digital editor warned.

Mr Houghton said that some of the videos from Sky News Australia which were deemed “unpalatable for societal consumption” by the Google-owned video site included debates over the efficacy of wearing masks and whether lockdowns could be justified in Australia in light of their other “adverse health outcomes”.

“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,” he wrote.

“Other commentators vehemently disagreed, and their views were also published, he said, going on to claim that: “The science is certainly not clear on either of these two points.”

The Sky News Australia digital editor went on to note that had the current iteration of YouTube’s coronavirus content restrictions been in place during the initial phases of the pandemic, then people would have been banned for questioning the false claims from the Chinese Communist Party that the virus was not airborne.

You have a right to debate Australias COVID-19 policies… If that conversation is stifled, our political leaders will be free to act with immunity, without justification and lacking any sufficient scrutiny from the public. Your freedom to think will be extinguished.”

The suspension of Sky News Australia comes amid increasingly draconian lockdown measures being imposed on the British commonwealth nation, with the government in Canberra even going so far as to deploy the military to enforce the local lockdown in Sydney.

A YouTube spokesman told the Sydney Morning Herald that their misinformation policies were determined on the advice of global and local health authorities, saying: 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 Australias channel.

A spokesman for Sky News Australia acknowledged that YouTube has a right to enforce its standards on its platform but rejected the idea that the network had done anything to deny the existence of the COVID-19 virus.

The censoring of what has been dubbed as the Fox News of Australia comes just two weeks after the Biden administration in America admitted to pressuring tech companies to censor “misinformation” about the coronavirus.

White House Presse Secretary Jen Psaki even went so far as to say that the U.S. government itself is “flagging problematic posts for Facebook that spread disinformation.”

We are in regular touch with the social media platforms and those engagements typically happen through members of our senior staff and also members of our COVID-19 team, Psaki added.

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka



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