YouTube has been the go-to for gun videos for the past decade. What was once a haven for enthusiasts posting gun reviews has grown into a lucrative industry. YouTube has been moving closer to an all-out ban on gun content for a while, but now they’re making it official. Their new rules will gut firearm content on the site and encourage viewers to act as a sort of content police.
The problem with the abstract list above is two-fold. The vague use of terms makes anticipating YouTube’s decision making difficult. More alarming, though, is the call for users to report violations.
Is this a sign of things to come for the firearm industry? YouTube is owned by Alphabet Inc.’s, which also owns Google. It remains unclear if Google will also begin banning gun-related content.
YouTube, though, features many different kinds of gun content.
“We routinely make updates and adjustments to our enforcement guidelines across all of our policies,” a YouTube spokeswoman said in a statement. “While we’ve long prohibited the sale of firearms, we recently notified creators of updates we will be making around content promoting the sale or manufacture of firearms and their accessories.”
“Promoting the sale” could be construed to mean a positive review. Violators will have their content pulled. That seems to be the tip of the proverbial ice-berg here.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation is just one of the groups standing opposed to the move. “We suspect it will be interpreted to block much more content than the stated goal of firearms and certain accessory sales,” the NSSF’s statement read. “We see the real potential for the blocking of educational content that serves instructional, skill-building and even safety purposes. Much like Facebook, YouTube now acts as a virtual public square. The exercise of what amounts to censorship, then, can legitimately be viewed as the stifling of commercial free speech.”
Will videos, like this one with 7,000,000 views get canned? It is likely. This is from Smarter Everyday. Goggle up. Science is about to happen.
YouTube isn’t completely heartless. Seeing as many of the content creators make their livings from their channels, channels that offer how-to demonstrations and reviews, YouTube will wait until April to shut down the offending channels. That’s the official position. Some are being banned now.
“Well, since we’ve melted some snowflakes on YouTube and got banned, might as well set IG and FB on fire!,” Spike Tactical, maker of AR-15s, wrote. After fans complained, YouTube reinstated the channel, albeit temporarily.
“InRange TV,” Bloomberg notes, “another channel devoted to firearms, wrote on its Facebook page that it would begin uploading videos to PornHub, an adult content website.”
“YouTube’s newly released released vague and one-sided firearms policy makes it abundantly clear that YouTube cannot be counted upon to be a safe harbor for a wide variety of views and subject matter,” InRange TV noted. “PornHub has a history of being a proactive voice in the online community, as well as operating a resilient and robust video streaming platform.”