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YouTube Reinstates TalkRadio Channel After Temporary Ban

Ross Kelly

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TalkRadio Ban

YouTube said the digital radio station breached community guidelines on coronavirus information.

YouTube has reversed a decision to ban TalkRadio from its platform following a short suspension.

On Tuesday, TalkRadio confirmed that it had been banned from the video streaming platform for an undiclosed reason.

The digital radio station revealed it had not been informed of the ban or the reason behind it. However, claims circulated that the station had been removed from YouTube due to a breach of coronavirus-related content policies.

Hosts at the station, including Julia Hartley-Brewer, have previously spoken out against coronavirus lockdown measures on-air and on social media.

In a statement published yesterday, the station criticised the decision and the lack of clarity from YouTube.

“YouTube is making decisions about which opinions the public are allowed to hear, even when they are sourced to responsible and regulated news providers,” a spokesperson said.

“This sets a dangerous precedent and is censorship of free speech and legitimate national debate,” they added.

Cabinet Office Minister, Michael Gove, appeared live on the station shortly after it was announced TalkRadio had been banned.

In discussion with Hartley-Brewer, he defended the station’s right to free speech and open debate.

“I don’t believe in censorship,” he said. “We have a free and fair press and have commentators and interviewers who do criticise the government’s position.”

YouTube has swiftly repealed the ban and the TalkRadio account is once again live and available on the streaming site.

In a statement, the company explained its decision, noting that following “further review” the decision was made to reinstate the station.

“We quickly remove flagged content that violates our Community Guidelines, including Covid-19 content that explicitly contradicts expert consensus from local health authorities or the World Health Organization,” a spokesperson for YouTube said.

The company added that it makes exceptions for material published with an “educational, documentary, scientific or artistic purpose, as was deemed in this case”.

This incident raises questions over content moderation on online platforms. YouTube has previously acted against accounts or individuals deemed to be spreading misinformation, such as Alex Jones.

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Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, tech giants including Google and Facebook have attempted to curb the spread of health-related misinformation.

A report published in August revealed a marked increase in health-related fake news and misinformation on social media. Published by Avaaz, the organisation described the issue as an ‘infodemic’ running concurrently with the pandemic.

According to reports in the Guardian, a source at TalkRadio revealed the channel has come under intense scrutiny for coronavirus-related content.

“You can have a debate about an issue and if, in someone’s opinion, it undermines official guidance in any way, then it is classed as medical misinformation,” the source claimed.

Ross Kelly

Staff Writer

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