April 2021: YouTube suspends TB Joshua's account over hate speech allegations
3 times TB Joshua and his church's social media channels faced sanctions
In a saga of content violations and subsequent sanctions, prominent Nigerian TV evangelist, the late TB Joshua, along with his Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) and Emmanuel TV channel, has faced repeated actions from major social media platforms, particularly YouTube and Facebook.
In April 2021, YouTube took a significant step by suspending TB Joshua's influential account, which boasted 1.8 million subscribers. The suspension was in response to allegations of hate speech following a complaint filed by a rights body. The body had reviewed at least seven videos showing the preacher conducting prayers aimed at "curing" gay individuals. A YouTube spokesperson clarified that the platform's Community Guidelines strictly prohibit hate speech, leading to the termination of TB Joshua's channel. The preacher expressed his intent to appeal the decision.
Same Year: Facebook removes content showing violence
In the same year, Facebook also found itself taking action against TB Joshua's ministries. The social media giant removed at least one post displaying violence, wherein the preacher claimed to be casting out a "demonic spirit." TB Joshua Ministries responded, expressing surprise and suggesting that the decision was made hastily. The ministry highlighted its longstanding and fruitful relationship with Facebook, emphasizing the perceived abrupt nature of the action.
January 29, 2024: YouTube terminates Synagogue Church of All Nations channel
The most recent and significant development occurred on January 29, 2024, when YouTube terminated the official channel of the Synagogue Church of All Nations (Scoan). This megachurch, founded by the late Nigerian televangelist TB Joshua, faced this action after being found in violation of YouTube's hate speech policies. The termination followed a joint investigation by the BBC and openDemocracy, which exposed shocking evidence of widespread sexual abuse and torture within the church.
Emmanuel TV, the digital platform linked to TB Joshua's ministry, played a crucial role in the televangelist's global ascent. Although TB Joshua passed away in 2021, the Scoan is currently under the leadership of his wife, Evelyn Joshua, who has not yet commented on the termination. The church contends that previous allegations of wrongdoing were baseless.
This marks the second suspension of Emmanuel TV's YouTube channel in three years, with the latest occurring after reports by openDemocracy and the BBC of at least 50 "abusive" videos on the platform. The reported content included disturbing footage, instances of medical misinformation, and smear campaigns against women who had spoken out about TB Joshua's alleged sexual abuse.
Despite reporting affiliated trolling accounts to YouTube, contributors involved in the exposé have noted that they have not been removed, underscoring the ongoing challenges faced by social media platforms in maintaining online safety.
The incident contributes to the heightened scrutiny faced by YouTube and other social media platforms regarding their enforcement of policies on hate speech and online safety. TB Joshua, recognized as one of Africa's most influential evangelists, has seen top politicians counted among his followers. The recurring violations and sanctions underscore the ongoing debate surrounding ethical practices and content standards on digital platforms.
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