YouTube cracks down on videos promoting pro-gun content

Jake Hughes
March 22, 2018 - 10:21 am

(Image Courtesy of Dreamstime)

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In an era of hyperbole and vitriol, the gun debate has never been more prevalent. During a time when a school suspended two students for going to a gun range after school hours, this "cultural cold war" as some have said, seems to be nearing a tipping point  and the titan of online video hosting has cashed its chips. In a somewhat surprise move, YouTube has announced that they will be restricting some videos with gun content.

In a statement posted this week, YouTube said they would introduce harsher restrictions on videos about guns and other weapons. According to YouTube’s updated policies, it will no longer allow content that, "intends to sell firearms or certain firearms accessories through direct sales (e.g., private sales by individuals) or links to sites that sell these items…Provides instructions on manufacturing a firearm, ammunition, high capacity magazine, homemade silencers/suppressors, or certain firearms accessories such as those listed above. This also includes instructions on how to convert a firearm to automatic or simulated automatic firing capabilities, [or] Shows users how to install the above-mentioned accessories or modifications."

A YouTube spokeswoman said in a statement, “We routinely make updates and adjustments to our enforcement guidelines across all of our policies. 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.” The accessories they mention include bump stocks, Gatling triggers, drop-in auto sears, conversion kits or any equipment that might “enable a firearm to simulate automatic fire or convert a firearm to automatic fire.”

Although this is not an outright ban, they seem to be only cracking down on channels that are sponsored by gun manufacturers or videos that post links to gun purchasing websites. However, according to the strict reading of the rules, even posting a video showing someone disassembling and reassembling a firearm would get that channel a strike. So, videos like the one below could be a possible "no-go."

In addition, the move seems retroactive, as several notable gun channels on YouTube have seen their videos taken down. According to Fox News, the popular channel Spikes Tactical, said in an Instagram post Tuesday, that it had its account suspended for “repeated or severe violations” of the community guidelines.

The move does not come as a surprise to all. Gun enthusiast and YouTube content creator Theodore Strab says, "I don’t like censorship. But, in some ways, it’s better they told us now than to screw with content over time. It doesn’t really surprise me, and is actually a fairly good move on their part."

In the wake of all this, where does it leave content creators? Some have called on boycotts of the website, but that is highly unlikely to affect their website traffic enough to change things. Some are migrating their channels to other sites, like Full30.com and... PornHub.

Yes, that PornHub. Former YouTuber InRangeTV has migrated at least some of their videos to the pornographic video website, saying in a Facebook post that they would, "not be seeking any monetization from PornHub. We are merely looking for a safe harbor for our content and for our viewers."