Jan 20, 2022 - Technology

Exclusive: YouTube shuts down two Oath Keepers channels

Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes pictured with glasses and an eye patch

Stewart Rhodes, founder of Oath Keepers. Photo: Aaron C. Davis/The Washington Post via Getty Images

YouTube has deactivated two channels linked to the Oath Keepers militia group whose members have been charged in relation to the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, the company told Axios.

The big picture: Social media platforms that were used to plan or promote the Capitol attack have moved with varying degrees of speed to bar the accounts involved.

Driving the news: YouTube deactivated one channel named "Oath Keepers," which had fewer than 45,000 subscribers, and another belonging to the group's national leader Stewart Rhodes, which had fewer than 20 subscribers.

The channels broke the platform's creator responsibility guidelines, YouTube said.

  • Those guidelines state that if "significant evidence presented in a court of law against a creator for a very egregious crime, we may terminate their channel if its YouTube comment is closely related to the crime," said Ivy Choi, a YouTube spokesperson.
  • "This termination follows evidence presented in federal indictments against the Oath Keepers and the charges against them and their role in the Jan. 6 attacks."
  • In a court filing Wednesday, prosecutors alleged a group of Oath Keepers stockpiled an arsenal of rifles and ammunition in a hotel outside of D.C. as part of their operation to halt the electoral vote count on Jan. 6, 2021.
  • Rhodes was arrested on charges related to the Jan. 6 attacks earlier this month.

Why it matters: The two channels will no longer be able to disseminate information to their followers via YouTube.

Details: Per YouTube, the Oath Keepers will no longer be able to use, own or create any other YouTube channels, and YouTube will remove content or delete new channels re-uploading content from the deleted accounts.

  • Choi said actions like those perpetrated by the Oath Keepers can harm the YouTube community and hurt trust from creators and users.
  • YouTube has taken down channels in the past of people who have been indicted for serious crimes.
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