Nov 24, 2020 - Technology

YouTube temporarily suspends, demonetizes OANN

A photo of a smartphone displaying the YouTube logo
Photo: Mateusz Slodkowski/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

YouTube has barred One America News Network from posting new videos for a week and stripped it of its ability to make money off existing content after the Trump-friendly channel uploaded a video promoting a phony cure for COVID-19, YouTube spokesperson Ivy Choi tells Axios.

Why it matters: YouTube has been criticized for allowing OANN to spread misinformation using its platform, particularly around coronavirus and the election. This marks the Google-owned service's first crackdown against OANN.

Details: OANN's one-week suspension from posting new videos or livestreams is the result of a "strike" YouTube issued for violating its COVID-19 misinformation policy, which prohibits saying there is a guaranteed cure to the virus. YouTube took down the video that triggered the strike.

  • OANN is also suspended from the YouTube Partner Program, which means if it wants to monetize its videos again, it will have to re-apply.
  • YouTube has a three-strikes policy before an account is terminated. This is OANN's first strike, but it has violated the platform's COVID-19 misinformation policy before, meaning it gets no more warnings if it breaks the rules again — just additional strikes.
  • YouTube says it does not consider OANN an authoritative news source.

The big picture: YouTube, like other platforms, has grown more willing to take action against conservative-leaning accounts that spread misinformation. It has also been trying to provide greater visibility to legitimate news outlets.

  • A quartet of Democratic senators sent a letter Tuesday to YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki pressing her company to do more to stem the tide of election misinformation.
  • Posting videos that make false claims about election results isn't against YouTube's rules.

The other side: Trump and his allies have urged followers to tune into alternative news sources such as OANN and Newsmax that have questioned Joe Biden's victory, eschewing Fox News, which they feel has gone soft.

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