Youtube punishes Murdoch’s Sky News for pedalling Covid misinformation

Written By: - Date published: 7:44 am, August 3rd, 2021 - 38 comments
Categories: australian politics, covid-19, human rights, Media, news, youtube - Tags:

This will have the conspiracy theorists spinning.  Youtube have stopped Murdoch’s Sky News Australia from uploading videos for the next seven days after the channel uploaded videos questioning Covid and advocating for the use of alternative medicines including Donald Trump’s favourite hydroxychloroquine.

From the Guardian:

Sky News Australia has been banned from uploading content to YouTube for seven days after violating its medical misinformation policies by posting numerous videos which denied the existence of Covid-19 or encouraged people to use hydroxychloroquine or ivermectin.

The ban was imposed by the digital giant on Thursday afternoon, the day after the Daily Telegraph ended Alan Jones’s regular column amid controversy about his Covid-19 commentary which included calling the New South Wales chief health officer Kerry Chant a village idiot on his Sky News program.

News Corp told Guardian Australia the ending of Jones’s column did not mean the company does not support the “compelling” broadcaster.

YouTube has not disclosed which Sky News program the videos were from but said there were “numerous” offending videos which have now been removed.

The Guardian has identified six videos that caused the problem and have been removed.

Five of the six videos were from Dean and Panahi’s Outsiders program, and from 2020. Five of the six videos are either promoting hydroxychloroquine or ivermectin as treatment for Covid-19.

In one video, Panahi said “the leftist media’s disdain for Trump” meant it was “willing to have lives lost” due to opposition to hydroxychloroquine as a treatment for Covid-19.

Another features Jones in April 2020, then hosting the Jones & Richo show, speaking to billionaire Clive Palmer after he had secured 32m doses of hydroxychloroquine for Australia.

The last video is Dean calling an incident about the removal of a family from a flight after their two-year-old child could not be fitted with a mask “evil” and “authoritarianism”.

Unbelievably the Australian authorities have refused so far to take action.

And Sky is having a normal one.

Sky News host Chris Kenny said on Monday that the ban was “cancel culture writ large” and “censorship”.

Houghton said the ban was based on “one factor, the political persuasion of the person making the comments” and a lack of freedom of speech led to “Holodomor, Auschwitz and Mao”.

A Sky News Australia 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.”

It did not take long for Godwin’s law to kick in.

I only hope that strikes two and three kick in.  This sort of monetised hate speech is damaging and precisely what Australia does not need right now.  Murdoch’s business model is to spread equal amounts of hatred and stupidity.  There has to be a better way.

38 comments on “Youtube punishes Murdoch’s Sky News for pedalling Covid misinformation ”

  1. Adrian Thornton 2

    "This will have the conspiracy theorists spinning"….no what has critical thinkers spinning is that a private corporation with control of such a huge share of pubic discourse, get to say what is misinformation or not with no pubic oversight or debate.

    As usual you are a cheerleader for deplatforming and canceling by these private corporations…not understanding or acknowledging for whatever reason, that these very same corporations and their allies, using the same playbook, are already silencing all sorts of legitimate voices of protest and dissent on the Left…also done without any public oversight.

    Digital apartheid: Palestinians being silenced on social media

    Social media companies, from Zoom to Facebook and Twitter, are reinforcing Israel’s erasure of Palestinians.

    • Ad 2.1

      Facebook doesn't own Zoom.

      Different story.

    • Gypsy 2.2

      "no what has critical thinkers spinning is that a private corporation with control of such a huge share of pubic discourse, get to say what is misinformation or not with no pubic oversight or debate."

      I have some sympathy for that view, but the world is fighting a global pandemic that has so far claimed over 4m lives. Some of the material being circulated on-line is bat shit crazy, and there does have to be a line drawn somewhere. My preference would be to see the more absurd theories rebutted in situ, but there simply isn't the capacity to refute every false narrative put up on line.

      • Ad 2.2.1

        The main US-originated social media companies are on the whole more powerful and more reliable than most states.

        They also self regulate better than most states.

        State-controlled Social media are the darkest forces we have in the world right now.

        • RedLogix

          I'm not sure anyone voted to make google the sole arbiter of what is allowed to be said. You can argue all you like that 'they own the platform' – but the reality is that when the platform is the only place where anyone is really heard, then if you aren't able to access it you have been silenced.

          And yes if you think the state run social media are bad, I've not a lot more confidence in corporates getting it right. We used to have a profession called journalism whose explicit task and skill set was to try to get this right – but ironically google took them out. Now we're bereft of the tools to make sense of what's happening in the public domain.

          Maybe the correct answer just is to declare COVID a war-footing event – and shoot all the dissenters. That should keep all the closet authoritarians happy.

          • Gypsy

            " I've not a lot more confidence in corporates getting it right"

            I agree. What's more, if they get it wrong, they will likely pay a price (reputation, viewship/readership, share price etc). When governments get it wrong, not so much .

            • gsays

              "What's more, if they get it wrong, they will likely pay a price (reputation, viewship/readership, share price etc"

              I disagree. FB live streamed the Chch mosque mass murder. It was still up when the murderer was in custody. I am yet to meet anyone that stopped using FB because of that.

              Helen Clark was held accountable for light bulbs and shower heads.

          • Drowsy M. Kram

            Maybe the correct answer just is to declare COVID a war-footing event – and shoot all the dissenters.

            I'm on record here (despite my “closet authoritarian” tendencies) as opposing the shooting of all COVID dissenters – too extreme imo. Just offer them a jab – global active COVID cases (15.2 million) and (tragically) daily deaths are rising, again.

            C'mon team NZ – stamp it out, keep it out – don't let your guard down.


          • Ad

            I sure ain't arguing for this current state of affairs. There is no good option.

            I certainly ain't arguing for some Gattica-Minority Report state in which there is simply zero elected accountability to surveillance by all kinds of media and all that entails.

            But sometimes major digital empire corporates do good things – and it's not by luck because it never is.

          • ghostwhowalksnz

            "I'm not sure anyone voted to make google the sole arbiter of what is allowed to be said."

            Dont you mean Facebook, ?

            However you DID ACCEPT them when you agreed to their terms and conditions, which I doubt you have even read

            3. Your commitments to Facebook and our community

            We provide these services to you and others to help advance our mission. In exchange, we need YOU to make the following commitments:


            Same goes with The Standard terms and conditions , you accepted them when commenting

          • Stuart Munro

            We used to have a profession called journalism whose explicit task and skill set was to try to get this right – but ironically google took them out.

            Google is not altogether innocent – but much of the collapse of journalistic standards can be laid at Murdoch's door. Instead of resisting online news by providing better content, Murdoch took the world downmarket. Journalism is now so debased any half-assed clown can rant on a par with it.

      • mauī 2.2.2

        Surely the bat shit crazy theories would be ignored by the general population.. as after all they're bat shit crazy. Why then the need to remove people talking bat shit? Do we not trust people's intelligence? I guess not. The best explanation I can think of is that the bat shit crazy theories are actually some kind of threat to something…

        • Gypsy

          I guess it comes down to how much damage the bat shit craziness causes.

          As I said above, "my preference would be to see the more absurd theories rebutted in situ" or, put another way, my natural inclination is toward free speech, and to expose any nuttiness to the sunlight.

          However there is a very real risk that (in the face of a global pandemic) such an approach could have extreme public health outcomes.

        • Anne

          Why then the need to remove people talking bat shit? Do we not trust people's intelligence?

          No, we can't trust some people's intelligence. In statistical terms, close to half a nation's population are below average intelligence. Some of them at least need to be protected from their own stupidity, particularly when other people's lives are at stake. Hence the need to monitor and remove bat-shit crazy conspiracy theories and theorists.

          Btw, I’m not casting aspersions… a genuine response.

    • AB 2.3

      Yeah – the bigger problem is that YouTube exists – or at least, that it is not public infrastructure under democratic control.

      However, finding a better way of stopping batshit crazy people undermining public health initiatives and costing lives is a problem.

      • Incognito 2.3.1

        People undermining public health policies and initiatives and eroding trust in public health officials and measures whilst spreading blatant nonsense that they seem to honestly and genuinely believe is nothing new. It is on full display here on The Standard on a depressingly regular basis and despite people calling it. For the sake of the kaupapa of this site we have little choice but let the dim-witted ‘debates’ continue and pray for that glimmer of hope at the end of the tunnel. And that’s without any commercial imperatives influencing decisions!

        • Poission

          And if health policy is incorrect,constrains calls to shut borders immediately, would the world be a better place today?

          Who is the arbiter of what opinion is correct,what is misinformation and what is truth.

          • Gabby

            Not Murderoch, whatever he might think.

          • Incognito

            Can you please elaborate on what you mean with a health policy being “incorrect”?

            Opinions are neither right nor wrong; they’re not facts, as such, contrary to common belief. They may be based on correct or incorrect facts, on accurate or inaccurate information, on sound or unsound reasoning, on feelings and emotions, on ‘good’ or ‘bad’ values that one holds, et cetera. Sound debate aims at discerning a shared truth, in my view.

            I mentioned “blatant nonsense”, but if you think this cannot exist if there’s no “arbiter” then please make you argument. I think it depends on context and time/timing but maybe you’re advocating some universal rules?

            I have no time to read your link and I prefer if commenters state their arguments with support of suitable links rather than simply linking, pointing, and handwaving. It makes it so much easier for others to follow and engage.

        • AB

          Yes – all the moderators here deserve a medal for their forbearance and YT shouldn't be arrogating to itself the right to judge truth and falsehood. But truth isn't a completely relative thing – and if one person's falsehood results in another's death, are we happy to let that ride? I don't know the answer.

    • Gabby 2.4

      The Murderoch machine meantime gets to say what is misinformation or not with no public oversight or debate, via the media outlets it controls.

      • ghostwhowalksnz 2.4.1

        A bit rich claiming censorship when Sky News agreed to allow Facebook or You tube to remove any content not within its own guidelines.

        The Daily telegraph newspaper also did the same for that blowhard Alan Jones, removed content they dont like

  2. Tiger Mountain 3

    Mr Murdoch will thankfully join Mrs Thatcher soon enough, but obviously that will not solve the issue of neo liberal hegemony that they and many others at the time helped set up.

    “Freedom of the press belongs to ‘them’ that owns one” went an old saying from analogue days. And likewise digital media–sure anyone can indulge in citizen journalism, comment and post on line, but how many want to, or can, pay for their own servers, distribution and promotion that reaches mega audiences and influence levels?

    Corporate bans on the likes of Trump and Aussie SkyNews seem justified enough when they directly relate to evidence based concerns on public health in a pandemic, and upholding democratic norms like respecting election results. But on matters of opinion who should get to rule? Small groups of CEOs and shareholders are accountable to who exactly?–themselves and finance capital is the obvious answer.

    Bans can seem great when it is something you agree with, but I support Palestinian solidarity groups and don’t want them banned, there is a Kaitaia FB community group that bans political discussions, but regularly runs statements from local tories and the “tractor & ute” protest, till people like me draw attention to it, or post an opposing opinion and then the proverbial drops and they take down the tory post too–but really no one should be taken down the discussion should go on. Agree with AB above about public health initiatives being undermined by wackos.

    So more democracy for the internet is needed–more of it should be publicly owned and controlled. Peer to peer technology was set up for business meetings but imagine extending that for street and neighbourhood meetings and beyond.

  3. WeTheBleeple 4

    Cancel culture vs stopping dangerous disinformation… While the line at first seems blurry it's not hard to discern what is blatantly false and what is not.

    I for one have zero fears over flat earthers falling off the edge. But my idiot neighbour with multiple health issues who won't take his jabs… whoever filled his head with shit should have been taken to task a long time ago.

    Yesterday I was subject to cancel culture. In discussing cancel culture some backward fiddle playing (literally) nonce tried say cancel culture is what got women the vote, stopped slavery…

    My answer was:

    "That's a poor interpretation/comparison (imo) to what we're seeing today where someone says/does something off and there's a pile-on of epic proportions. To change the vote etc took massive social movements with many persons protesting their lot. The changes were societal issues, not personal grievances. Today it's one aggrieved idiot followed by mob mentality to get some hapless fool and ruin their life.

    In one instance society moves forward. Today's cancel cult stymies progress, as people are too scared to be anything but courteous. How do we resolve past transgressions if everyone's too scared to show a chink in their act. How do we move forward together if we can't simply disagree at times. It's utterly fake whether the intention is good (shutting down a racist e.g.) or not (taking personal grievance to a kangaroo court)."

    For this I was reported for hate speech. I objected and they upheld my (7 day) ban from the platform.

    So on the one hand (censure FOX) social media did something useful, on the other they did something ridiculous.

    It's so tempting to take that chap to court for defamation of character for false accusation of hate speech, just to put this mob mentality BS in its place, and to highlight how stupid it's about to get.

    But who can be bothered it's all just a bit too shrill out there. Help each other, that's better. I try, but still got very little patience for liars and fools.

    If you are tearing someone down (cancel culture) instead of trying to help them up (how-to human) you are the anti-social one.

    FOX, as we know, was always garbage. It's hard not to enjoy watching them squirm. But, like all right wing outlets, the cries of victim will overwhelm (within their followers) any lesson they might learn from this.

    • Incognito 4.1

      Good comment, thanks.

      If you are tearing someone down (cancel culture) instead of trying to help them up (how-to human) you are the anti-social one.

      That’s an interesting way of putting it and sets it up as a dichotomy, almost.

      You’re correct that people like to shoot the messenger and to lash out at others who might be trying to ‘help’. However, people tend to take things so personal when it is usually just something they said or wrote. People seem to be wedded to their communications as if they’re saying: if you disagree with me and attack something I said, you’re attacking me and I’ll attack you back in return, as it is my right to self-defend and stand my ground, et cetera. I think this happening a lot. People don’t know how to debate and seem to think it is some kind of blood sport and contest where the last person standing wins.

      • WeTheBleeple 4.1.1

        Absolutely and I am just as guilty as any. Trying to learn from all this.

        It is my hope many of us are learning from our own folly/knee-jerk reactions, to take a few seconds, breathe, and think before hammering at the keyboard.

        So easy to be mindless these days. caught up in whatever it is that will distract us from horribly depressing realities. Covid, climate, the political climate…

        We get through this together. Somehow…. a concerted effort is what it’s going to take.

        Hence me trying not to carry silly resentments lately, other humans are helping me with this.

  4. mac1 5

    Regarding hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin, we had these being touted as viable alternatives at the recent Grey Power AGM by a member. I am pleased to say that his ideas were resoundingly rejected, wise and proper scientific advice acted on by government was instead praised, and a University academic speaker also gave similar wise and proper advice to the meeting. I was much heartened by my colleagues' own wisdom and rejection of rabbit-hole conspiracy and essentially what was dangerous hubris in someone claiming to know more than the mass of highly ranked scientists pronouncing in their fields of expertise.

    • KSaysHi 5.1

      I know that I'm in the minority here in that at I think we are about to discover this is the worst medical mistake in history. My reasoning for this is that it looks to me that we have early signs of ADE. If this is correct (big "IF"!!) then before the end of this year the vaccination program will be halted, and those who have had it will need to prevent infection since they will be more vulnerable than the unvaccinated. Ivermectin or #Pfizermectin could play a big role in that, but the Pfizer version would be multiples of the price and our dependence as a country would likely continue for years.

      If anyone is interested in Tweet evidence of Ivermectin, this guy has a ton of charts (ongoing) that support the use of it. Yeah yeah, I can hear you trashing my use of this rather than actual source data, but research is corrupted to hell at this point and I’m not used to reading the raw material.

      Small aside…in South Africa doctors fought to make it legal to prescribe Ivermectin for Covid. They succeeded in doing that which would suggest it isn't the boogyman it is made out to be.

      Our current strategy relies in no small part on smothing public discussion. The vaccinations could fail for any number of reasons and as yet we have crumbs in the way of backup strategy although the Covid Committee is a good step (forgot official name). For those of you in agreement with the current plan, will you be understanding of the medical doctors who advised vaccination as the way forward if failure occurs? I hope you will be.

      • mac1 5.1.1

        The Auckland University academic and epidemiologist who addressed our AGM was not persuaded by the individual advocating for ivormectin et al.

        If you look at your actual language, you do not persuade me when you use such phrases as "I think" and "that it looks to me" when you don't claim expert knowledge status and you admit to reading raw data is a problem but prefer to use Twitter sourced material.

        Your claim that research data is corrupted to hell is a convenient out to dismiss data that does not meet your inexpert beliefs.

        My final paragraph applies above at 3.48.

  5. Maurice 6

    Surely, the greatest 'conspiracy theory' is that alternative points of view and/or "misinformation" are conspiracy theories?

    • mac1 6.1

      Surely, to call a theory a theory is not a theory? To say something's unproven and unsubstantiated is itself able to be substantiated purely by the fact that the substantiating proof has not been given.

      My head hurts………

  6. Brendan Waugh 7

    Sky has the freedom of speech to spread their views.

    But Youtube also has freedom of speech as well. They are free to dump anyone from their platform.

    And so they have.

    • RedLogix 7.1

      The ministry of truth is sending all dissidents to the Googlags cheeky

      • mac1 7.1.1

        Ha! My doctor warned me about Dr Google after I had a blood test that Google told me the figures meant I had end stage renal failure! He obviously knew by looking at me that was not the case, gave me the warning and had another blood test ordered. It turned out I was sent some other poor bastard's results!

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