YouTube 'shuts down TalkRadio's channel after challenging lockdowns'

YouTube shuts down TalkRadio’s channel for ‘violating community guidelines’ after presenters challenge lockdown policy

  • YouTube shut down TalkRADIO’s channel ‘for violating community guidelines’
  • TalkRADIO has aired criticism of the government use of coronavirus lockdowns
  • Dissenting experts have included Oxford epidemiologists Sunetra Gupta
  • Presenters Julia Hartley-Brewer and Mike Graham also criticise shutdowns

Google has shut down TalkRADIO’s YouTube channel, reportedly for violating its community guidelines by airing criticisms of coronavirus lockdowns. 

TalkRADIO, which used YouTube to stream its live video content and archive old shows, accrued tens of millions of views and 250,000 subscribers as its popularity soared last year.

But in what appears to be an extraordinary clampdown, tech giant Google last night terminated the station’s YouTube channel, reportedly for violating its community guidelines.

Google had not responded to MailOnline’s request for comment at the time of publication. 

YouTube has implemented a ‘COVID-19 medical misinformation policy’ which allows it to ban ‘content that spreads medical misinformation that contradicts local health authority information or World Health Organization (WHO) medical information about COVID-19’.

Examples of content which is banned from YouTube include ‘denial that COVID-19 exists’, ‘claims that people have not died from COVID-19’, and ‘videos alleging that social distancing and self-isolation are not effective in reducing the spread of the virus’. 

It warns YouTube users that it will remove content which violates the policy and give them a warning with no penalty if it is a first-time violation.

Google will then issue strikes against any offending channel, and terminate accounts after three strikes. 

News UK, which owns TalkRADIO, is investigating Google’s justification for removing the YouTube channel. 

TalkRADIO has interviewed lockdown sceptics during the pandemic who doubt that massive restrictions on public life implemented by western governments can suppress the disease. 

YouTube has shut down TalkRADIO’s channel after the broadcaster criticised lockdowns

TalkRADIO presenters including Mike Graham (left) and Julia Hartley-Brewer (right) have criticised the Government’s use of lockdowns during the pandemic

TalkRADIO presenter Ms Hartley-Brewer today denied that the broadcaster had flouted YouTube’s community guidelines. ‘We simply challenge the evidence that lockdowns are a proportionate response to the Covid virus. It’s called free speech,’ she tweeted

Dissenting experts have included Oxford epidemiologist Professor Sunetra Gupta, who co-authored the anti-lockdown Great Barrington Declaration, and Irish engineer Ivor Cummins.

Some of the station’s presenters, including Julia Hartley-Brewer, Mike Graham and Dan Wootton, have also criticised the use of draconian lockdown measures during the pandemic. 

A spokesperson for TalkRADIO told MailOnline: ‘We urgently await a detailed response from Google/YouTube about the nature of the breach that has led to our channel being removed from its platform.

‘TalkRADIO is an Ofcom-licensed and regulated broadcaster and has robust editorial controls in place, taking care to balance debate. 

‘We regularly interrogate government data and we have controls in place, use verifiable sources and give space to a careful selection of voices and opinions.’ 

TalkRADIO presenter Ms Hartley-Brewer today denied that the broadcaster had flouted YouTube’s community guidelines.

‘We simply challenge the evidence that lockdowns are a proportionate response to the Covid virus. It’s called free speech,’ she tweeted. 

The move has sparked criticism of big tech censorship, with Michael Gove today telling Ms Hartley-Brewer that lockdown critics ‘should be heard’.

‘I don’t believe in censorship, and we have a free and fair press, and we have commentators and interviewers of distinction who do criticise the Government’s position’, the Cabinet Office minister said. 

‘I respectfully disagree with them but I think it’s important that their voices are heard and that debate takes place.’ 

It comes as the Government plunged England into a third national lockdown which will last until at least March if 13 million people are vaccinated against the disease before then. 

Civil liberties campaign group Big Brother Watch called Google’s move an ‘assault on free expression’ and ‘a bold censorship move that would make China proud’.  

Its director Silkie Carlo told MailOnline: ‘YouTube’s termination of TalkRADIO is evidence, if needed, that big tech censorship is out of control. 

‘This chilling attack on a broadcaster is the type of thing you see in China. It is no coincidence that TalkRADIO is one of the loudest critics of the Government’s mismanagement of the pandemic, nor that the Government is pressuring big tech companies to increase censorship under ‘online harms’ policies. 

‘This assault on free expression must be resisted and overturned.’ 

TalkRADIO presenter Dan Wootton has also criticised the use of shutdowns to tackle Covid

Dissenting experts who have spoken on TalkRADIO include Oxford epidemiologist Professor Sunetra Gupta, who authored the anti-lockdown Great Barrington Declaration

Actor Laurence Fox, who has also criticised shutdowns, warned: ‘This is just the beginning’ – in a suggestion that more online anti-lockdown rhetoric could be removed. 

Triggernometry YouTube channel host Konstantin Kisin said: ‘Today is the day we can all be 100% certain that free speech is over’. 

It comes as Mr Gove today admitted there was ‘no certainty’ that the brutal squeeze imposed by Boris Johnson on England last night will be eased at the end of February as hoped.

The PM set a goal of giving first doses of vaccine to more than 13 million vulnerable people over the next seven weeks, with doubts already voiced over whether it is possible.

But Mr Gove cautioned that even in the best case scenario not ‘all’ of the curbs will go, as he braced the weary public for a long haul to combat the fast-spreading new variant of coronavirus. 

Under the new guidance, primary and secondary schools will close, with only the vulnerable and offspring of key workers allowed to go in. 

Nurseries can stay open, but university students are being told to stay at home and study remotely – while GCSE and A-level exams will not go ahead as planned. 

Non-essential retail, all hospitality, gyms and swimming pools will be ordered to close – with Rishi Sunak due to lay out another package of support today amid growing fears about the impact on the economy.

Cafes, bars and restaurants will be allowed to serve takeaway – but in a tightening from the draconian measures last spring, they will not be allowed to serve any alcohol. 

Vulnerable people are being told to shield where possible.

The public will once again only be allowed to leave home for one of five reasons: to go to work if essential, shop for necessities, exercise – allowed with one other person from another household, care for someone, or to seek medical help or flee threat such as domestic violence.

Communal worship can continue with social distancing in place.

Those who break the rules face a £200 for the first offence, doubling for further offences up to a maximum of £6,400. 

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