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YouTube mass purges popular channels after announcing crackdown on “harmful conspiracy theories”

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YouTube has scrubbed many popular “QAnon” and independent news channels from its platform after announcing new rules that prohibit what it deems to be “harmful conspiracy theories.”

The channels collectively had millions of subscribers and some of the many channels that were removed during this purge include:

  • X22 Report (952,000 subscribers)
  • SGTreport (630,000 subscribers)
  • Edge of Wonder (467,000 subscribers)
  • Praying Medic (391,000 subscribers)
  • And We Know (385,000 subscribers)
  • Amazing Polly (375,000 subscribers)
  • Joe M (367,000 subscribers)
  • Dollar Vigilante (304,000 subscribers)
  • Mouthy Buddha (296,000 subscribers)
  • JustInformed Talk (281,000 subscribers)
  • RedPill78 (269,000 subscribers)
  • The Patriot Hour (248,000 subscribers)
  • In Pursuit of Truth (242,000 subscribers)
  • Destroying the Illusion (238,000 subscribers)
  • TRUreporting (215,000 subscribers)
  • Alice Down The RabbitHole (174,000 subscribers)
  • Spaceshot76 (159,000 subscribers)
  • World Alternative Media (154,000 subscribers)
  • McAllisterTV (127,000 subscribers)
  • Sarah Westall (125,000 subscribers)
  • Radio-Québec (120,000 subscribers)
  • Truth and Art TV (113,000 subscribers)
  • Dustin Nemos (113,000 subscribers)
  • Blessed To Teach (109,000 subscribers)
  • Woke Societies (108,000 subscribers)
  • Stroppy Me (83,400 subscribers)
  • Patriots’ Soapbox News Network (80,000 subscribers)
  • Angel Wallace (63,000 subscribers)
  • Titus Frost (44,400 subscribers)

YouTube claims that it’s introducing this new policy to remove conspiracy content that’s “used to justify real-world-violence” – a claim that’s similar to those used by several other tech giants when justifying their arbitrary QAnon bans. For example, Facebook framed its QAnon ban as a crackdown on “potential violence.”

Under YouTube’s new policy, content that “targets an individual or group with conspiracy theories that have been used to justify real-world violence” are banned. Of course, YouTube doesn’t explain how it determines when a conspiracy theory is being used to justify real-world violence.

YouTube also specifically states that QAnon or Pizzagate content that suggests someone is complicit in “harmful conspiracies” is now prohibited. Presumably, this means that anything that YouTube deems to be a harmful conspiracy theory about companies, organizations, or public figures is now against the rules.

Additionally, YouTube writes that many channels that “deny the existence of major violent events” have already been deleted.

While many channels were purged shortly after YouTube announced these new rules and specifically cited QAnon in its update, some of the removals don’t appear to be QAnon related.

For example, Praying Medic tweeted that they removed all of their Q related videos weeks ago and Radio-Québec was reportedly removed for “coronavirus misinformation.” Several of the purged channels are also reporting that they were removed after posting videos about the New York Post’s Joe and Hunter Biden expose – a story that has been heavily censored by Facebook and Twitter.

Related: ? Big Tech’s double standard on “conspiracy theories” when they come from mainstream media

YouTube also revealed that the number of views from non-subscribed recommendations to prominent Q-related channels had already dropped by over 80% since January 2019.

But this decline in viewership didn’t prevent YouTube from purging these channels and arbitrarily claiming that QAnon is used to justify real-world violence.

The crackdown follows Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, and Google Play all making similar policy decisions in recent months which either outright ban or greatly restrict content related to QAnon.

As is often the case with Big Tech crackdowns and rule changes, the mainstream media was explicitly given a pass under this new policy with YouTube stating that news coverage of these issues may stay up because “context matters.”

This latest carve-out means that mainstream media outlets are now allowed to cover topics that violate YouTube’s rules on conspiracy theories, coronavirus misinformation, and hate speech and add their own “context.” Anyone else who breaks these rules has their videos restricted or removed and puts their channel at risk of deletion.

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