Though known lately as the official mouth-piece that Donald Trump uses to spew his unfounded, unsubstantiated, tinfoil hat-embracing nonsense about election fraud, right-wing One America "News" Network (OANN) has found its YouTube presence suspended for one week by the video site for spreading misinformation that promoted a bogus cure for COVID-19 (still keeping it classy, OANN). The Herring Networks-owned media outfit was found in violation and temporarily prevented from uploading new videos or live-streaming for one week. In addition, OANN's YouTube channel was demonetized, which means they're no longer a partner in the site's advertising revenue-sharing program.
A representative for YouTube had this to say about the decision: "Since early in this pandemic, we've worked to prevent the spread of harmful misinformation associated with COVID-19 on YouTube. 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."
Earlier today, U.S. Senators Robert Menendez, Mazie K. Hirono, Gary C. Peters, and Amy Klobuchar sent a letter to YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki to address their concerns over the video hosting site's plans and policies when it comes to blocking misinformation regarding elections from being posted. Before listing a series of questions for Wojcicki, the four senators stated their concerns:
"We write to express our deep concern regarding the proliferation of misinformation on your platform during and immediately following the 2020 elections and in light of the upcoming Georgia run-off elections. We urge you to immediately remove all election outcome misinformation and take aggressive steps to implement prohibitions, as other social media companies have done, regarding outcomes in future elections.
In August 2020 when YouTube updated its policy regarding misinformation and manipulated media, the platform notably refused to prohibit users from posting false content on the outcome of the election or the manner in which state and local officials counted votes.1 As a result, the platform is now home to an "onslaught of videos aiming to undermine the legitimacy of the election."For example, one YouTube video claiming evidence of voter fraud in Michigan has more than five million views, despite any evidence of such fraud. These videos seek to undermine our democracy and cast doubt on the legitimacy of President-elect Biden's incoming administration. Moreover, because the current president has not committed to a peaceful transition of power, misinformation and manipulated media content on your platform may fuel civil unrest.
As you know, on January 5, 2021, Georgia voters will cast their ballots in two runoff elections for Georgia's U.S. Senate seats. The outcome of these races will determine what party controls the U.S. Senate; and for that reason, the races are expected to garner significant national interest. YouTube and its industry peers must take responsibility and immediately stop the spread of misinformation and manipulated media on their platforms."