The far-right network, which has been an outspoken backer of President Donald Trump, will not be allowed to post original videos or participate in the platform’s revenue-producing partner program during the suspension. Trump has recently urged his supporters to tune into the lightly viewed OAN rather than Fox News, which he has sparred with throughout 2020, especially after Fox called the state of Arizona for Joe Biden.
“Since early in this pandemic, we’ve worked to prevent the spread of harmful misinformation associated with COVID-19 on YouTube,” YouTube spokesperson Ivy Choi said in a statement provided to Deadline. “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. Additionally, 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.
The punitive action is deemed a “strike” by the Google-owned video giant, under a “three strikes” policy that permanently bans any video providers after a third violations. By YouTube’s rules, the imposition of the strike means that OAN had already elicited a warning (a pre-strike signal) for spreading similar misinformation.
Any report about a supposed cure for COVID-19 automatically gets filtered out by YouTube and results in a penalty against whoever posted it. While several vaccines are proving to be effective against COVID-19, no legitimate scientist or health official has ever identified a cure for the virus.
Since early February, YouTube says it has manually reviewed and removed 200,000 videos related to dangerous or misleading COVID-19 information.
OAN remains in some ways a fringe media presence but because of its aggressively pro-Trump posture it has earned a degree of recognition. Its White House correspondent, Chanel Rion, is frequently called on during official press briefings to ask the questions the administration most wants to field. She became known to a wider audience than political junkies and conservative media superfans last month after making a brief appearance in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm.
Rion incurred the disdain of most journalists covering the White House when she asked Trump last March about “major left-wing media” accommodating “Chinese communist party narratives” in their coverage. “Mr. President, do you consider the term ‘Chinese food’ to be racist because it is food that originated from China?” she asked as a followup. “I don’t think that’s racist at all,” Trump responded, helping establish the context for him referring to COVID-19 as the “Chinese virus.”
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