Two YouTube channels linked to the far-right extremist group Oath Keepers have been deactivated by the website, the Google subsidiary told Axios. It wasn’t exactly due to the content of their videos, however, but because some of the group’s members were charged with seditious conspiracy over their role in the January 6th, 2021 US Capitol breach. One of the deactivated channels was named “Oath Keepers” and had fewer than 45,000 subscribers, while the other belonged to group leader Stewart Rhodes and had fewer than 20 subscribers. Rhodes (pictured above) was arrested for his role in the attack and was one of the members who were charged.
YouTube spokesperson Ivy Choi told Axios that the channels broke the platform’s creator responsibility guidelines. According to those guidelines, YouTube may terminate a channel if there’s “significant evidence presented in a court of law against a creator for a very egregious crime” and that channel’s “YouTube comment is closely related to the crime.” YouTube said that the termination “follows evidence presented in federal indictments against the Oath Keepers and the charges against them and their role in the Jan. 6 attacks.”
According to the Justice Department, the Oath Keepers discussed their plans to seize the Capitol building using encrypted messaging apps and social networks. The group has long used online platforms to disseminate information, including COVID-19 conspiracy theories with QAnon hashtags and threats of violence. Twitter banned the group back in 2020 for violating its policies on violent extremist groups. In addition to removing two channels, YouTube will no longer allow the Oath Keepers to create, use or own any other channel. Further, it will remove re-uploads of its old videos and will even delete new channels that try to reuse content from the deleted accounts.