According to the channel, the videos that provoked the censorship included ‘debates around whether masks were effective and whether lockdowns were justified when considering their adverse health outcomes’.
And it cited its commentators who argue ‘masks are not effective in containing outbreaks, particularly when mandated outside in the fresh air’ and take issue with ‘the frequency and mechanisms of locking down Australians.’
It pointed out the science on both of these points is not settled.
The move comes as Australia’s ‘Zero Covid’ strategy that aims to completely eliminate the virus shows signs of buckling.
Professor Bruce Robinson, chairman of Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council, admitted that the nation’s chance of succedsfully eliminating the Indian Delta Covid variant was ‘close to zero’.
He said: ‘The chance of eliminating this is close to zero – there are many people I have spoken to who share that view. We might suppress it but we will be really unlikely to eliminate it and that’s because we see people who are clearly infectious without knowing it and they’re out and about.’
YouTube’s move followed a review of posts uploaded by the Rupert Murdoch-owned TV channel, which allegedly posted material that ‘could cause real-world harm’ to its 1.86 million YouTube subscribers.
YouTube said it had ‘clear and established Covid-19 medical misinformation policies based on local and global health authority guidance’. A spokesman told MailOnline today that it ‘did not allow content that denies the existence of Covid-19’ or which encouraged people ‘to use hydroxychloroquine or ivermectin to treat or prevent the virus’.
Sky News Australia said it had found old videos that did not comply with YouTube’s policies and took its ‘commitment to meeting editorial and community expectations seriously’.
However, it denied any of its hosts had ever denied the existence of Covid and its reporters warned the move was an attack on press freedom. The ban could affect Sky News Australia’s revenue stream from Google.
Its posts, including some questioning whether there is a pandemic and the efficacy of vaccines, are widely shared on social media forums around the world that spread virus and vaccine misinformation.
Google has banned Sky News Australia from uploading content to YouTube for one week after the news platform allegedly breached its rules on spreading so-called ‘Covid misinformation’ (stock0
Bondi Beach, Sydney: Police check IDs to ensure visitors to the beach meet the exercise radius stipulated in lockdown directives
Just 17 per cent of adults in the country have been vaccinated, and now Sydney’s five million inhabitants are under a strict stay-at-home order due to a worrying surge of nearly 3,000 infections since the middle of June
Do face masks work? Studies find coverings reduce spread of Covid and chance of inhaling infected droplets
Most scientific studies conducted to date suggest face masks do reduce the spread of coronavirus in enclosed indoor settings.
A number of studies have concluded that face coverings reduce the spread of airborne droplets that carry Covid bacteria between people.
The latest data, from the Lancet, studies in China and Thailand as well as on the USS Theodore Roosevelt, suggests a mask stops up to 80 per cent of droplets from being released into the air by a person wearing a mask, and they also block around 50 per cent of them being inhaled by a potential victim.
Covid-19 is spread through these airborne droplets when people cough, sneeze or talk – and standing in close proximity can assist transmission.
The US Centers for Disease Control found in one real-world data experiment the coverings were useful. Two hair stylists who had Covid symptoms worked on 139 customers in eight days.
Everyone involved wore masks and no one out of the 67 who volunteered to be tested came back positive. Another experiment in China looked at 124 houses where there had been a case of the virus.
It found transmission was reduced by 79 per cent by wearing a face covering. And an example also came from the USS Theodore Roosevelt – a cramped vessel with tight living quarters and makes social distancing hard.
But the study found when using face coverings there was a 70 per cent reduced risk of infection. Meanwhile in Thailand a retrospective case-control study discovered out of 1,000 spoken to during a contact tracing probe, those who said they wore a covering had a 70 per cent reduced chance of catching Covid.
And the Lancet in its report looked at 172 studies from 16 countries and concluded wearing a mask gives a person just a three per cent chance of getting the virus. Edinburgh University looked into the different types of masks people can wear and found homemade ones can be effective.
Researchers tested seven types, including surgical masks, respirators, lightweight and heavy-duty face shields and handmade masks. All of them – except ones with a valve – reduced the distance droplets could get by at least 90 per cent.
The CDC says: ‘Experimental and epidemiological data support community masking to reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2. The prevention benefit of masking is derived from the combination of source control and wearer protection for the mask wearer.
‘The relationship between source control and wearer protection is likely complementary and possibly synergistic, so that individual benefit increases with increasing community mask use,’ the agency added.
The WHO says: ‘Masks should be used as part of a comprehensive strategy of measures to suppress transmission and save lives; the use of a mask alone is not sufficient to provide an adequate level of protection against COVID-19.
‘If COVID-19 is spreading in your community, stay safe by taking some simple precautions, such as physical distancing, wearing a mask, keeping rooms well ventilated, avoiding crowds, cleaning your hands, and coughing into a bent elbow or tissue. Check local advice where you live and work. Do it all!’
The last YouTube upload, from three days ago, features a host claiming that lockdowns have failed and criticising state authorities for extending Sydney’s current shutdown measures.
Sky News Australia confirmed the temporary ban and a spokesperson said ‘we support broad discussion and debate on a wide range of topics and perspectives which is vital to any democracy’.
‘We take our commitment to meeting editorial and community expectations seriously,’ they added.
Comments by veteran Sky presenter Alan Jones have triggered debate in Australia. In one July 12, broadcast with MP Craig Kelly, both men claimed Delta was not as dangerous as the original and vaccines would not help. Sky News website issued an apology.
Sydney radio host Ray Hadley said Mr Jones’s performances had ‘allowed conspiracy theorists, anti-vaxers… to gain support from a minority who think the virus is nothing more than a dose of flu’. Australia’s Daily Telegraph last week ended the column Mr Jones wrote for it.
In an article on the Sky News Australia website, digital editor Jack Houghton said that if conversation about Australia’s Covid policies were stifled ‘our political leaders will be free to act with immunity, without justification and lacking any sufficient scrutiny from the public’.
He wrote: ‘Sky News Australia has been temporarily suspended from posting on the Google-owned platform YouTube for publishing opinion content the tech giant disagrees with.
‘Among the videos deemed unpalatable for societal consumption were debates around whether masks were effective and whether lockdowns were justified when considering their adverse health outcomes.
‘The stance taken by some commentators at this network was that masks are not effective in containing outbreaks, particularly when mandated outside in the fresh air. Some also took issue with the frequency and mechanisms of locking down Australians. Other commentators vehemently disagreed, and their views were also published. The science is certainly not clear on either of these two points.’
He added: ‘If YouTube’s COVID-19 misinformation policy was around in the early days of the pandemic, people would be banned for criticising China’s transparency, saying the virus seems to be airborne or calling for limitations on international travel.
‘No one body should have that power – let alone an organisation with such a poor track record. Even more concerning is what this does to the freedom of debate and conversation.
‘You have a right to debate Australia’s COVID-19 policies. Science, and the government’s response to that science, are two very different things. If that conversation is stifled our political leaders will be free to act with immunity, without justification and lacking any sufficient scrutiny from the public.
‘Your freedom to think will be extinguished.’
YouTube has a ‘three strikes’ policy on violations, with the first resulting in a one-week suspension, a second strike within 90 days producing a two-week ban, while a third means permanent removal from the platform. Former US president Donald Trump was temporarily banned under the policy.
A YouTube spokesman told MailOnline: ‘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.
‘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.’
In Australia, people are being ordered away from beaches by police helicopters as the country’s lockdown continues, and a top doctor warned there is a ‘close to zero’ chance of eliminating the Delta variant of Covid and the AstraZeneca jab must be used to quell surging cases.
While Covid cases in the UK have fallen week-on-week for ten days in a row amid a lifting of restrictions and hopes that the pandemic could be shrinking, the situation is quite different in Austrialia, where armed forces and thousands of police officers are now enforcing the country’s ‘Zero Covid’ lockdown.
Just 17 per cent of adults in the country have been vaccinated, and now Sydney’s five million inhabitants are under a strict stay-at-home order due to a worrying surge of nearly 3,000 infections since the middle of June.
Streets around the Coogee and Bondi beaches were packed with locals as thousands made the most of the 25C heat, despite pleas from NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian to stay at home, prompting police to call in air support to order people off the sand.
‘Nearly 1000 people were spoken to, ensuring they were complying with the LGA requirement,’ said a NSW Police spokesman. ‘Officers were also enforcing QR codes at large retailers at Maroubra, Bondi and Eastgardens.’
For weeks, Ms Berejiklian has been begging Sydneysiders to only leave their home for essentials like exercise, shopping, vital work or getting vaccinated.
The move followed a review of posts uploaded by the Rupert Murdoch-owned TV channel, which allegedly posted material that ‘could cause real-world harm’ to its 1.86 million YouTube subscribers
Police officers check ID cards of people walking in the CBD in order to prevent an anti-lockdown protest, during lockdown in Sydney, Australia
Streets around the world famous beaches of Coogee (pictured) and Bondi were packed with locals making the most of the wintry sun which saw temperatures ride above 25C
‘Assume that you have the virus, or that people you come into contact with have the virus,’ she has repeatedly told the state. We can’t afford to have people who have the virus going about their business.’
Earlier this week the former leader of Britain’s Conservative Party, Sir Iain Duncan Smith, said there were ‘some scientists’ who wanted no restrictions to be lifted until there was ‘zero Covid’.
He told The Telegraph newspaper: ‘The Government is constantly being assailed by scientists whose forecasts seem to be around fulfilling a purpose, keeping us in lockdown.
‘We are in a state of unreality, it’s as though we don’t need an economy, we don’t need to meet each other, we don’t need to do anything that makes life worthwhile. But we do.’
Professor Robinson, who is spearheading a ‘second opinion’ signed by some of the country’s top medical practitioners, recommending everybody get AstraZeneca, believes all restrictions on that version of the jab should be scrapped because there are not enough doses of Pfizer to go around.
‘This virus is spreading and there’s probably no stopping it,’ Professor Robinson told the Herald Sun .
The head of Australia’s top medical research organisation said the ruling by the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation was ‘wrong’ and needs to be changed ‘ASAP’.
He explained the vaccine got a ‘really bad rap’ and the ATAGI advice was only appropriate for a time when Covid outbreaks were under control. The professor said he believed there was now a ‘groundswell of medical opinion which feels ATAGI’s advice was wrong and that it needs to be publicly changed’.
He said this would encourage more Australians to get jabbed as the highly contagious variant continues to spread through Sydney and now Queensland.
YouTube’s ‘COVID-19 Medical Misinformation Policy’
YouTube implemented a ‘COVID-19 Medical Misinformation Policy’ last year to remove content that ‘poses a serious risk of egregious harm’
YouTube implemented a ‘COVID-19 Medical Misinformation Policy’ last year to remove content that ‘poses a serious risk of egregious harm’.
The webpage on ‘community guidelines’ states that users cannot upload content which includes treatment, prevention, diagnostic or transmission misinformation.
A YouTube channel is terminated if it accrues three Community Guidelines strikes in 90 days, or is determined to be wholly dedicated to violating our guidelines. When a channel is terminated, all of its videos are removed.
YouTube counts this as content which ‘discourages someone from seeking medical treatment by encouraging the use of cures or remedies to treat COVID-19’.
- Content that encourages the use of home remedies in place of medical treatment such as consulting a doctor or going to the hospital;
- Content that encourages the use of prayer or rituals in place of medical treatment;
- Content that claims that there’s a guaranteed cure for COVID-19;
- Claims about COVID-19 vaccinations that contradict expert consensus from local health authorities or WHO;
- Content that claims that any currently-available medicine prevents you from getting the coronavirus;
- Other content that discourages people from consulting a medical professional or seeking medical advice.
According to YouTube, users cannot upload content which ‘promotes prevention methods that contradict local health authorities or WHO’.
This could include:
- Claims that there is a guaranteed prevention method for COVID-19;
- Claims that an approved COVID-19 vaccine will cause death, infertility, or contraction of other infectious diseases;
- Claims that an approved COVID-19 vaccine will contain substances that are not on the vaccine ingredient list, such as fetal tissue;
- Claims that an approved COVID-19 vaccine will contain substances or devices meant to track or identify those who’ve received it;
- Claims that an approved COVID-19 vaccine will alter a person’s genetic makeup;
- Claims that any vaccine causes contraction of COVID-19;
- Claims that a specific population will be required (by any entity except for a government) to take part in vaccine trials or receive the vaccine first.
YouTube claims this includes content ‘that promotes diagnostic methods that contradict local health authorities or WHO’.
Google, which owns YouTube, states that content which ‘promotes transmission information that contradicts local health authorities or WHO’ also cannot be uploaded.
It lists as examples:
- Content that claims that COVID-19 is not caused by a viral infection;
- Content that claims COVID-19 is not contagious;
- Content that claims that COVID-19 cannot spread in certain climates or geographies;
- Content that claims that any group or individual has immunity to the virus or cannot transmit the virus;
- Content that disputes the efficacy of local health authorities’ or WHO’s guidance on physical distancing or self-isolation measures to reduce transmission of COVID-19.
Examples of banned content
YouTube would ban videos which contain the following information:
- Denial that COVID-19 exists Claims that people have not died from COVID-19;
- Claims that any vaccine is a guaranteed prevention method for COVID-19;
- Claims that a specific treatment or medicine is a guaranteed cure for COVID-19;
- Claims that certain people have immunity to COVID-19 due to their race or nationality;
- Encouraging taking home remedies instead of getting medical treatment when sick;
- Discouraging people from consulting a medical professional if they’re sick;
- Content that claims that holding your breath can be used as a diagnostic test for COVID-19;
- Videos alleging that if you avoid Asian food, you won’t get the coronavirus;
- Videos alleging that setting off fireworks can clean the air of the virus and will prevent the spread of the virus;
- Claims that COVID-19 is caused by radiation from 5G networks Videos alleging that the COVID-19 test is the cause of the virus;
- Claims that countries with hot climates will not experience the spread of the virus;
- Videos alleging that social distancing and self-isolation are not effective in reducing the spread of the virus;
- Claims that the COVID-19 vaccine will kill people who receive it;
- Claims that the COVID-19 vaccine will be used as a means of population reduction;
- Videos claiming that the COVID-19 vaccine will contain fetal tissue Claims that the flu vaccine causes contraction of COVID-19;
- Claims that the COVID-19 vaccine causes contraction of other infectious diseases or makes people more vulnerable to contraction of other infectious diseases;
- Claims that the COVID-19 vaccine will contain a microchip or tracking device.