YouTube permanently bans Fox News host Dan Bongino for posting covid misinformation

Google-owned YouTube said it had permanently banned prominent conservative media figure Don Bongino from its site after he repeatedly broke its rules on posting coronavirus misinformation.

Bongino, who hosts a show on Fox News in addition to talk radio shows and online broadcasts, had been given a strike and a week-long suspension from YouTube earlier in January for saying in one of his videos that masks were useless. He uploaded another video later in the month that also broke the platform's rules on coronavirus misinformation. When he tried to upload a third video, the company banned him permanently.

YouTube has had rules against posting false or misleading information about the coronavirus and vaccines since the beginning of the pandemic, though critics have said the company enforces its rules unevenly. In September, it took down the accounts of several anti-vaccine influencers after years of research from misinformation researchers suggesting the platform played a role in the growth of vaccine hesitancy.

Bongino did not respond to a request for comment, but a Twitter account associated with one of his shows posted a tweet saying, "Good riddance to YouTube." Bongino had around 870,000 subscribers on YouTube but has over 2 million on Rumble, a video platform popular with right-wing figures who say Big Tech is censoring them. He had threatened to leave YouTube before the ban.

Bongino is one of a small handful of conservative figures who have been handed permanent suspensions from the big social media companies. President Donald Trump was permanently suspended from Twitter after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol. Twitter also permanently banned Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., this month after she also repeatedly posted false information about the coronavirus, though she is still able to use her official congressional Twitter account. For the most part, the social media companies have instead opted for short-term suspensions. Trump is also banned from Facebook and YouTube, but the companies have both left the door open to letting him return.

Bongino and other conservative media figures have used the bans and suspensions to promote alternative social media networks that purport to have fewer rules about what can and can't be said, such as Gettr, Gab, Telegram and Rumble. A Washington Post analysis of audience data for 47 right-wing influencers showed that when they moved to one of the alternative networks, their follower counts jumped but then quickly stagnated and stopped growing at the same speed as they had on the more mainstream networks.