Banning, it seems, is in this week. Google and Apple have kicked out social media app Parler from their app stores; Reddit has banned r/donaldtrump, the unofficial subreddit dedicated to President Donald Trump; and Twitter has banned the president himself, as well as other high-profile supporters of the QAnon conspiracy theory.
YouTube decided to add to that list on Friday when it cracked down on the channel for War Room, the podcast of former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon. He is currently accused of defrauding hundreds of thousands of people who donated millions to a crowdfunding campaign to build Trump’s border wall. The ban came into effect hours after the president’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, appeared on Bannon’s podcast and denied that Trump incited an angry mob to go to the Capitol to interrupt the certification of President-elect Joe Biden’s victory by Congress, per Business Insider.
Giuliani pinned the blame for the riot on the Democratic Party. The incident left five people dead and several police officers injured.
“Believe me, Trump people were not scaling the wall,” Giuliani said. “So, there’s nothing to it, that he incited anything. Also, there’s equal if not more responsibility on the fascists who are now running the Democratic Party, who have imposed censorship on these people, who have been singling them out for unfair treatment since the IRS started going after conservative groups.”
YouTube told Gizmodo that it used its community guidelines’ strike system when evaluating Bannon’s channel. Under that system, channels receive one warning and three strikes. Warnings, or when the platform assumes that its policies are not violated intentionally, are usually given when YouTube detects a first violation of its policies. Subsequent violations, however, result in strikes.
Channels that receive strikes lose their ability to post or live stream, among other penalties. Three strikes in the same 90-day period will result in the channel’s permanent removal from YouTube. On Thursday, one day after the riot at the Capitol, YouTube said that any channel with content that alleges that widespread fraud or errors changed the outcome of the presidential election violates its policies and would receive a strike beginning that day.
“In accordance with our strikes system, we have terminated Steve Bannon’s channel ‘War Room’ and one associated channel for repeatedly violating our Community Guidelines,” a YouTube spokesman told Gizmodo in an emailed statement.
The platform told Gizmodo that War Room violated its presidential election integrity policy. YouTube said it had issued two strikes against Bannon’s channels for videos that violated its rules, although it didn’t specify which videos they were. War Room received another strike in November when Bannon called for Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, and Christopher Fray, the FBI director, to be beheaded and for their heads to be put on spikes.
YouTube removed the video, while Twitter banned the podcast permanently on its network.
On Saturday, Bannon addressed the ban in his audio podcast, which I found on Apple Podcasts. He indicated that there would be legal confrontations and told people where else they could find the show.
“If you have been watching us on YouTube, you’re not watching us today,” Bannon said.
Update 1/10/2021, 1:50 p.m. ET: This post has been updated with additional comment from YouTube.