Following R. Kelly’s guilty verdict in the singer’s Brooklyn trial on federal racketeering and sex trafficking charges, Google quietly “terminated” a pair of official YouTube accounts Tuesday that housed Kelly’s music and videos.
Both RKellyTV and RKellyVevo now show the message, “This account has been terminated for a violation of YouTube’s Terms of Service.” The violation in question, a YouTube spokesperson told Bloomberg, is the video streaming giant’s “creator responsibility guidelines,” which states that videos or channels can be removed if the creator is “participating in abuse or violence, demonstrating cruelty, or participating in fraudulent/deceptive behavior leading to real world harm.”
“Egregious actions committed by R. Kelly warrant penalties beyond standard enforcement measures due to a potential to cause widespread harm,” YouTube’s head of legal Nicole Alston wrote in a memo to employees (via Bloomberg). “Ultimately we are taking this action to protect our users similar to other platforms.”
R. Kelly hasn’t been entirely scrubbed from YouTube: Unofficial videos of his music uploaded by fans linger on the site, Kelly’s Trapped in the Closet films are available to purchase on YouTube, and the “R. Kelly – Topic” channel — the “Topic” pages are an autogenerated warehouse of sorts often uploaded by record labels or music publishers — still contains over 1,000 Kelly songs. However, YouTube has no plans to “terminate” the “R. Kelly – Topic” channel. (Similarly, the “Gary Glitter – Topic” page still exists on YouTube despite that imprisoned rocker’s history of child sex abuse.)
In a statement to Rolling Stone, YouTube said that Kelly is barred from using, owning or creating channels on the service; however, users can still upload his music onto the site, and YouTube Music will still house Kelly’s musical catalog.
While YouTube has revved up efforts to take down anti-vaccination videos, hate propaganda and other videos that could harm the public at large, terminating someone’s entire channel is rare, but not unprecedented: Alex Jones, Sebastian Gorka and dozens of alt-right and white supremacist users have all been de-platformed, as has convicted felons like Larry Nasser. However, Kelly appears to be the first high-profile musician to have his official channels terminated by YouTube.