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YouTube blocks videos & hands strikes to RT’s English & German channels over alleged Covid-19 disinformation

On Friday, four videos on RT’s main English-language channel were made inaccessible for viewers for what YouTube said were violations of its policies on “medical misinformation” and “spam, deceptive practices and scams.”

In its notification letter, the platform didn’t specify what exact content in those clips went against its regulations. RT has addressed YouTube for clarification, but hasn’t gotten a response yet.

According to YouTube’s rules, the blocking of four clips on a channel amounts to a “strike.” As a penalty, RT’s English channel will be barred from organizing live broadcasts for the next seven days.

None of the blacklisted clips were newly uploaded.They remained on RT’s channel for weeks and even months, garnering numerous views and likes from the audience.

One of them was an interview with renowned Russian virologist and World Health Organization expert on influenza Dmitry Lvov, who made a name for himself by researching the most dangerous viruses in the former Soviet Union and abroad. In the clip from early March, Lvov spoke to RT’s journalist, Anton Krasovsky, about the dangers and possible origins of the current coronavirus pandemic.

Another blocked video was an episode of the Wayne Dupree Show, hosted by the black American journalist of the same name. It was dedicated to January’s inauguration of US President Joe Biden, in which Biden called on supporters to skip the event due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

The other two clips were news broadcasts from rallies against coronavirus restrictions in London and Birmingham without commentary.

Meanwhile, the head of RT in Germany, Dinara Toktosunova, confirmed that RT DE also got a strike on YouTube. The video in question, a livestream from October 2020, showed an anti-lockdown protest in Melbourne, Australia. There was no explanation from YouTube as to which specific moment of the footage triggered the sanctions. As the second strike for the page, it carries a harsher penalty. The German channel won’t be able to upload videos and stage live broadcasts for two weeks now, according to Toktosunova.

The platform’s rules state that “three strikes in the same 90-day period will result in your channel being permanently removed from YouTube.”

The latest action against RT follows another episode of social media clampdown on the news outlet.

In late March, the RT Arabic channel on YouTube, which is one of the most popular news sources in that language, was blocked entirely over copyright infringement claims by a US-based firm. However, its operations swiftly resumed after the hugely popular service was unblocked a few hours later. YouTube claimed the ban was “unintentional.”

Last year, RT’s Twitter account was marked as Russian state-affiliated media, which means the tweets by the account won’t be promoted or suggested for further reading by the social media giant.

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