As Trump’s symbiotic relationship with Fox News has lost its shine, the U.S. President has taken to directing his followers to One America News Network, a low-rent cable news upstart with non-existent editorial standards. But no one gets a free ride on the Trump gravy train and OANN just found out that loyalty bordering on lunacy can have business consequences — very mild business consequences.
On Tuesday, YouTube said that it has suspended OANN’s channel from its YouTube Partner Program after it uploaded a video that pointed viewers to a fraudulent cure for covid-19. A YouTube spokesperson told Gizmodo that the video violated the platform’s COVID-19 misinformation policy. YouTube says that for the next week, OANN will be prohibited from uploading new videos and from earning ad dollars on the clips that are still live on the channel.
OANN will be required to re-apply for the YouTube Partner Program after it has resolved any issues that triggered the suspension and it isn’t guaranteed re-entry. YouTube did not answer questions about whether it will monetise future OANN videos. However, the company did say that OANN has reached its limit for warnings on violating its COVID-19 misinformation policy and the conservative network will receive a strike for any future violations — three strikes result in termination.
The punishment is pretty insignificant considering how much heat YouTube has taken in recent weeks for its failure to crack down on videos that violate the company’s terms of service and spread misinformation. The day after the Presidential election, YouTube immediately came under fire for leaving up an OANN clip that claimed Trump won the election. The clip was eventually demonetised but allowed to stay online.
Yesterday, a group of senators sent a letter to YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki expressing “deep concern regarding the proliferation of misinformation” on the platform she oversees. While strongly-worded letters expressing deep concern can be motivating, the more notable news item is probably the fact that on Monday, the Trump administration formally allowed President-elect Biden’s transition to begin — a move that was widely seen as the closest thing to a concession we’re going to get. Still, with or without a President Trump, private tech companies have been and are likely to continue being extremely sensitive to conservative cries of censorship.
Recall that when the New York Post published an article with dubious origins that was too unethical for its own staff to stand behind, Twitter very stupidly banned the link. The Post quickly made the move into an issue over censorship that prompted Senate hearings. Twitter eventually reversed its decision and Ted Cruz slowly lowered his body into a celebratory hot tub full of Campbell’s thick and chunky soup.
So, it’s surprising that OANN isn’t losing its shit right now. The company did not immediately reply to our request for comment and its Twitter and Facebook pages have been silent on the issue this afternoon. So far, the President has not tweeted about OANN’s suspension either, and he’s really not busy at the moment.
Maybe the right-wing pundits are all huddled in a brainstorming session on how they’re going to make YouTube pay for this assault on real Americans, or maybe they just don’t think YouTube’s punishment amounts to much at all.