The popular online video-streaming platform YouTube has decided this week to “quietly” enforce more restrictions on videos involving firearms, due to the current U.S. gun-control debate.
The popular media site is banning videos which promote or link to websites that sell firearms and accessories. A ban on instructional videos on how to assemble firearms is also being enforced.
YouTube, owned by Alphabet Inc.’s Google, released a statement via one spokeswoman:
“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.”
Many second amendment supporters have used this media site to promote their products and views. Millions upon millions of videos can prove it. YouTube’s change in policy has canceled many gun focused channels, one page was suspended as early as Tuesday. Another popular channel is protesting by moving their content to an adult-content site, saying that will offer more freedom than YouTube.
Via Bloomberg: YouTube has placed greater restrictions on content several times in the past year, responding to a series of issues with inappropriate and offensive videos. Most of those changes involved pulling ads from categories of videos. Google is more reluctant to remove entire videos from YouTube, but has been willing to do so with terrorism-related content.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation, a gun industry lobbying group, called YouTube’s new policy “worrisome.”
“We suspect it will be interpreted to block much more content than the stated goal of firearms and certain accessory sales,” the foundation said in a statement. “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.”
This move comes just days before Saturday’s “March For Our Lives,” which is a protest organized by the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting survivors.
According to YouTube the policies won’t be enforced until April, but two video bloggers are already facing the affects.
Spike’s Tactical, a firearms company, said in a post on Facebook that it was suspended from YouTube due to “repeated or severe violations” of the video platform’s guidelines.
“Well, since we’ve melted some snowflakes on YouTube and got banned, might as well set IG and FB on fire!,” Spike’s wrote on Facebook, where it has over 111,000 followers, referring to the social network and its Instagram app. A YouTube spokeswoman said the channel has been reinstated after it was mistakenly removed.
The other blogger, InRange TV, also posted on Facebook that they plan to upload their videos via PornHub:
“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. PornHub has a history of being a proactive voice in the online community, as well as operating a resilient and robust video streaming platform.” PornHub didn’t immediately return a request for comment on the matter.
Last month, gun control activists escalated the pressure on tech giants for giving a platform to the National Rifle Association. A flurry of businesses cut ties with the pro-gun group after the deadly Parkland school shooting. Companies with streaming services, such as Amazon.com Inc., Apple Inc. and YouTube, declined to remove the NRA channel.