• YouTube has deleted the conspiracy theorist David Icke’s official channel from its platform.

    The Google-owned video clip service acted after repeatedly warning Mr Icke that he had violated its policies by posting misleading information about the coronavirus pandemic.

    However, the firm will still allow videos posted by others that feature Mr Icke to remain live, so long as their content does not break its rules.

    It follows a similar ban by Facebook.

    “YouTube has clear policies prohibiting any content that disputes the existence and transmission of Covid-19 as described by the WHO and the NHS,” a spokeswoman told the BBC.

    “Due to continued violation of these policies, we have terminated David Icke’s YouTube channel.”

    The channel had more than 900,000 subscribers at the time it was removed. The last clip Mr Icke had posted on Friday - about his Facebook ban - had about 120,000 views.

    YouTube confirmed Mr Icke would not be allowed to start again by setting up a new channel.
    Censorship debate

    Last month, a live-streamed interview with Mr Icke posted by another account prompted YouTube to ban all conspiracy theory videos falsely linking coronavirus symptoms to 5G mobile phone networks.

    The tech firm subsequently went further by banning any material that:

    • suggests coronavirus does not exist

    • contains medically unsubstantiated diagnostic advice about the virus

    • explicitly disputes the efficacy of guidance about social distancing and self-isolation that has been issued by the WHO and/or local health authorities

    Some civil rights groups have previously expressed concern about “growing online censorship around the coronavirus pandemic” by the major social networks.

    “It is through a free forum of ideas that citizens understand, contextualise and trust information, not through harsh restrictions on information sharing,” they wrote to YouTube on 16 April.

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    But the latest move was welcomed by the Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), a UK-based think tank.

    It said that videos of Mr Icke discussing conspiracy theories had been viewed about 30 million times across social media.

    “We commend YouTube on bowing to pressure and taking action on David Icke’s channel,” said CCDH’s chief executive Imran Ahmed.

    “However, there remains a network of channels and shadowy amplifiers, who promote Mr Icke’s content [and] need to be removed.”

    CCDH is now urging Twitter and Facebook’s Instagram to take similar action.

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