Sky News Australia has returned to YouTube after serving a one-week suspension for posting content critical of Covid health orders.
YouTube removed several videos featuring presenters Alan Jones, Rowan Dean, and Rita Panahi that discussed the effectiveness of masks and whether or not lockdowns were justified.
Sky News Australia features opinion content that includes controversial discussions. A spokesperson for the network confirmed their continued dedication to presenting debate on their network.
The media company is more popular than all three of Australia’s commercial news YouTube channels combined and has 400,000 more subscribers than the ABC.
Sky News Australia has returned to YouTube with a defiant video questioning the role of social media in censoring public conversation.
“Who has the right to ban what you can watch? What you can read? What you can think? When Big Tech censors opinion for some, but not for others, it’s a dark day for free speech. Will you allow it? Freedom of debate and conversation should not be cancelled. Your freedom to think should not be extinguished.” - ‘Uncancelled’ Sky News Australia YouTube Special
The YouTube special featured a scathing introduction by Sky News Australia Digital Editor, Jack Houghton.
“Other news agencies are publishing the same sort of content, but not facing suspension,” said Jack Houghton, Digital Editor at Sky News Australia. “Conservatives seem to be the only people ever to be locked out of the conversation.”
The Australian broadcaster made headlines around the world when it was reprimanded by the social media giant for allegedly ‘spreading misinformation related to the coronavirus pandemic’.
Keen-eyed users noticed that Sky News Australia, which has a significant digital footprint, had not posted videos for several days. YouTube then released a statement confirming that the network had been issued with a ‘strike’. Three strikes in 90 days results in a channel being taken down permanently, regardless of size.
We have clear and established COVID-19 medical misinformation policies based on local and global health authority guidance, to prevent the spread of COVID-19 misinformation that could cause real-world harm.
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 Australia’s channel.
Specifically, we don’t allow content that denies the existence of COVID-19 or that encourages people to use Hydroxychloroquine or Ivermectin to treat or prevent the virus. We do allow for videos that have sufficient countervailing context, which the violative videos did not provide.
- Statement from YouTube
Since the ban, Sky News Australia has seen their subscribers grow to 1.87 million.
No one is quite sure when YouTube appointed itself as a health authority. The platform, along with its social media competitors Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook have all implemented strict community guidelines to limit the conversation of its users.