The video-sharing giant took down four Syrian state-run YouTube channels, including two channels belonging to state media and the official account of the Syrian president, amid escalating tensions in the militant-held province of Idlib and warnings by the Russian military that the White Helmets may stage a new false flag chemical attack.
Asked to comment on the shutdown, which users reported over the weekend, a YouTube spokesperson provided Sputnik with the following statement: “YouTube complies with all applicable sanctions and trade compliance laws – including with respect to content created and uploaded by restricted entities. If we find that an account violates our Terms of Service or Community Guidelines, we disable it.”
Earlier, the TomoNews US outlet claimed that the Syrian government-affiliated accounts may have been shut down for generating ad revenue, which if true would be a violation of US sanctions against Damascus.
Former President Barack Obama signed an executive order in 2011 prohibiting US entities from “engaging in business” with any “Syrian state-owned” entity.
The four government-affiliated channels and their hundreds of videos’ worth of content have been deleted, replaced with the message: “This account has been terminated for a violation of YouTube’s Terms of Service.” As for PresidencyCy, the channel of the Syrian presidency, the deleted channel displays the message: “This account has been terminated due to a legal complaint.”
YouTube’s decision prompted scorn among some social media users, who said that the deleted channels, including that of the Syrian Arab News Agency and the Syrian Defense Ministry, provided them with an alternative perspective on the Syrian conflict to that put forth by Western governments and media.