YouTube Suspends ‘OANN’ From Monetization, Strikes Channel For Repeated COVID Misinformation

By 11/24/2020
YouTube Suspends ‘OANN’ From Monetization, Strikes Channel For Repeated COVID Misinformation

YouTube has removed a video from the channel belonging to OANN — a far-right news network that stands for One America News Network — and also issued a strike against the channel for violating its COVID-19 misinformation policies.

“Early on in this pandemic, we’ve worked to prevent the spread of harmful misinformation associated with COVID-19 on YouTube,” YouTube spokesperson Ivy Choi tells Tubefilter in a statement. “After careful review, we removed a video from OANN and issued a strike on the channel for violating our COVID-19 misinformation policy, which prohibits content claiming there’s a guaranteed cure.”

Furthermore, Choi says that “due to repeated violations of our COVID-19 misinformation policy and other channel monetization policies, we’ve suspended the channel from the YouTube Partner Program and as a result, its monetization on YouTube.”

OANN, which counts 1.2 million subscribers and nabs 12.5 million monthly views, had previously received a warning for transmitting COVID misinformation, YouTube says, and at the time received a warning. (All channels are eligible to receive one lifetime warning before strikes are issued). Given that the warning was already expended, the channel’s first strike is now in effect — meaning it cannot upload new videos or broadcast live streams for one week. (After three strikes, a channel is permanently terminated).

In terms of its suspension from monetization, YouTube said that creators who are suspended from YPP can reapply for access, but will only be readmitted once they’ve addressed the issues that triggered suspension.

YouTube says that it has been stringent in seeking to crack down on dangerous or misleading news surrounding COVID-19, and has manually reviewed and removed 200,000 offending videos since February. The company says it specifically targets content that: disputes the existence or transmission of the virus, discourages viewers from seeking medical treatment, promotes unsubstantiated treatment methods, or disputes health authority guidance on social distancing and and self-isolation.

In addition to removing the aforementioned videos, YouTube also says it has trained its algorithms to surface authoritative news sources — which YouTube explicitly says OANN is not considered. As such, OANN’s videos will not appear high up in search results for broad queries about COVID-19, nor will they be promoted in recommendations.

YouTube also publishes information panels alongside videos and searches around topics that are subject to misinformation — including COVID-19 — most recently adding COVID-19 vaccination progress to these fact-checking measures.