…Bans Thousands, Possibly Millions of Videos
March 21, 2018
There’s a new battleground in the fight between Second Amendment supporters and anti-gun voices: YouTube.
The Google-owned video hosting giant announced on Wednesday that some previously allowed firearm content would be banned from the site, putting the future of popular firearms content creators in jeopardy.
For the moment, the change is mostly focused on accessories like bump stocks and high capacity magazines, even though those are currently legal at the federal level and in many states.
Nevertheless, YouTube’s announcement may mark a major shift that could change the landscape of gun review and instructional videos, which have found a thriving online niche.
“YouTube will ban videos that promote or link to websites selling firearms and accessories, including bump stocks,” reported Bloomberg News.
“Additionally, YouTube said it will prohibit videos with instructions on how to assemble firearms,” continued the financial news site.
One of the biggest problems is the vagueness of the new guidelines. For instance, popular YouTube creators like Hickok45 often mention sponsors or acknowledge gun stores who have provided firearms and accessories to be reviewed. These partnerships would seemingly be off limits under the new rules, but nobody seems to know for sure.
YouTube’s official restrictions do not shed much light on what is allowed and what is prohibited. As an example, the rules define “high capacity magazines” as “carrying more than 30 rounds,” and then declare that they will ban any video which “shows users how to install the above-mentioned accessories.”
Will a video that simply shows a 33-round magazine being inserted into a firearm violate the rule? How about a 50 round drum magazine?
Remember, such magazines are legal federally, and fairly common … yet simply putting a legally-owned magazine into a legally-owned firearm would apparently be banned under the new rule.
“The new YouTube policies will be enforced starting in April, but at least two video bloggers have already been affected. 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,” reported Bloomberg.
Liberals were once on the side of freedom of expression and the free exchange of information. They championed the “net neutrality” push on the basis of defending free speech against corporate and government censorship, but are now the ones banning any speech they dislike.
YouTube should of course have the ability to decide which content is considered inappropriate on its site, but the fact is that services like Facebook, Google, and YouTube are so ubiquitous that this is rapidly becoming a public First Amendment issue.
At some point, there must be free speech protections that cover companies as well as the government. The phone service is a for-profit business, but almost everyone agrees that if it started actively monitoring and blocking people’s conversations, free speech would be under attack.
One look at the videos freely available on YouTube makes it clear that they are targeting Second Amendment supporters while turning a blind eye to more questionable content.
For instance, instructions about constructing home-made flamethrowers are readily available on the site; videos of topless women and explicit sexual themes are also still up. But don’t you dare make a firearms video of something legal and protected by the constitution!
2018 is starting to sound a lot like “1984.” Orwell may have been right, he just didn’t expect that it would be corporations and not the government playing Big Brother.
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