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YouTube terminates SMNI News, KOJC channels in ‘compliance with US sanctions laws’

Gelo Gonzales

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YouTube terminates SMNI News, KOJC channels in ‘compliance with US sanctions laws’
This follows YouTube's June 21 and TikTok's July takedowns of Apollo Quiboloy's accounts on the platforms

MANILA, Philippines – The YouTube channels of media network SMNI News, and megachurch Kingdom of Jesus Christ (KOJC), both of which were founded by Pastor Apollo Quiboloy, were terminated on Friday, July 7. 

Also terminated is the YouTube channel “Laban Kasama Ang Bayan” hosted by former Duterte government official Lorraine Badoy.

YouTube parent firm Google issued a short official statement on the takedown: “Google is committed to compliance with applicable US sanctions laws and enforces related policies under its Terms of Service. After review and consistent with these policies, we terminated the Laban Kasama ang Bayan, KOJC & SMNI YouTube channels.”

The termination follows the takedown of Quiboloy’s YouTube channel on June 21. TikTok also took down his channel, first observed on July 3. Quiboloy and SMNI are still present on Facebook and Twitter. 

Attempts to reach videos hosted on the respective channels (youtube.com/@smninews, youtube.com/@kingdomofjesuschrist, and youtube.com/@labankasamaangbayan) show a message saying, “Video unavailable. This video is no longer available because the YouTube account associated with this video has been terminated.” 

Visiting the actual YouTube channel page shows the message, “This page isn’t available. Sorry about that. Try searching for something else.” 

SMNI had about 1.7 million subscribers upon checking an archived version of the page on July 1, 2023 on Wayback Machine, while Laban Kasama Ang Bayan had more than 100,000 based on a March 31 archived version. Kingdom of Jesus Christ had more than 4,000, based on numbers seen by Rappler during the YouTube takedown of Quiboloy’s channel. 

The channel of Quiboloy, who is on the wanted list of the United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigation, has been used as a platform to attack and red-tag journalists and activists, especially under the previous Duterte administration. Quiboloy is a friend and ally of former president Rodrigo Duterte.

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The US imposed sanctions on Quiboloy in December 2022 under US Executive Order (EO) No. 13818 for “his connection to serious human rights abuse.” 

“Pursuant to EO 13818, the Department of the Treasury is designating Quiboloy for his connection to serious human rights abuse. As the founder of the Philippines-based church, Kingdom of Jesus Christ, the Name Above Every Name (KOJC), Quiboloy took advantage of his leadership role within the KOJC to engage in a pattern of systemic and pervasive rape and other physical abuse involving minors as young as 11 years old from 2006 to at least 2020,” the US Justice Department said at the time.

Under the directives of the EO, “making or receipt of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for Quiboloy’s benefit are also prohibited.”

He has been indicted in the US for sex trafficking charges and bulk cash smuggling, among others. A federal warrant for his arrest was issued on November 10, 2021. – Rappler.com 

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Gelo Gonzales

Gelo Gonzales is Rappler’s technology editor. He covers consumer electronics, social media, emerging tech, and video games.