In yet another crackdown on independent media and creators, YouTube has removed the channel of Byoblu – an independent Italian media outlet that had more than 525,000 subscribers.
The popular channel had uploaded more than 2,000 interviews to YouTube in its 14+ years on the platform and racked up over 200 million total video views. It featured interviews with magistrates, presidents of the Constitutional Court, politicians, lawyers, scientists, and more.
YouTube deleted Byoblu's channel after targeting it numerous times over its coverage of protests and interviews with scientists.
According to Byoblu, YouTube had removed several unpublished videos of demonstrations in Cesena and Milan, removed a video discussing a leading British Medical Journal columnist's thoughts about the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, removed a months-old video featuring an interview with a senior scientist from the University of Siena because he talked about the benefits of vitamin C, demonetized the channel, and removed 5,000 of the channel's subscribers before it was permanently suspended.
Byoblu added that YouTube's final action against the channel before permanently suspending it was to remove a September 2020 video of a street demonstration where the Pan-African activist Mohamed Konare spoke.
In a post about YouTube's takedown of the channel, Byoblu suggested that it was targeted by YouTube because of its obsession with wanting ordinary people to speak and showing the news from an alternative point of view.
Not only does YouTube's suspension of the channel mean that Byoblu can no longer reach the more than half a million subscribers that it's built on the platform but all these historical videos are also gone.
Byoblu noted that these now-deleted videos provided a snapshot of the societal changes that have taken place over the last 14 years which were seen through the eyes of the citizens rather than those in the media.
Senator Gianluigi Paragone blasted YouTube for taking down Byoblu and accused the tech giant of being a “feudal master.” Magistrate Angelo Giorgianni also voiced his support of the channel.
Byoblu now plans to buy a national channel on digital terrestrial TV and is crowdfunding the purchase of the channel via its website. If it raises the funds to purchase the channel, it plans to start broadcasting to the channel by April 25.
The Italian media outlet joins a growing list of independent media outlets and creators that have been sanction by YouTube in recent months. The Swedish media outlet Swebb TV, American media outlet One America News Network (OAN), and comedian Steven Crowder are just some of the many examples of channels that have recently had their content restricted at the behest of YouTube.