YouTube said this week that it will enforce tougher restrictions on videos that are gun-related. The restrictions will begin in April and are said to initially target videos that promote the sale of firearms and accessories.
The move comes just days before Saturday’s March for Our Lives rally. The rally was planned by survivors of the Florida high school shooting of Feb. 14 that left 17 people dead.
YouTube, owned by Alphabet Inc.’s Google, has faced public scrutiny for hosting videos that endorse and sponsor firearms and accessories like bump stocks, firearm assembly instructions and other weapons, including bombs, Bloomberg reported this week.
Until now, YouTube has been a major hub for pro-gun supporters – there are many “how to” videos related to anything about guns and other weapons.
Before YouTube’s announcement, YouTube creators of pro-gun videos started to see some of their videos taken down. Others are moving their videos to other adult-content sites that aren’t restricting gun-related content.
Spike’s Tactical firearms company had its videos suspended by YouTube. In a Facebook post, they said YouTube blamed the suspension on “repeated or severe violations” of the video platform’s guidelines.
“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,” a YouTube spokeswoman said in a statement.
This is not YouTube’s first content restriction this year. They have also placed restrictions on inappropriate and offensive videos.
“We suspect it will be interpreted to block much more content than the stated goal of firearms and certain accessory sales. 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,” Spike’s Tactical said in a statement.
InRange TV, a dedicated firearm channel, announced on Facebook they would be uploading their videos to the popular adult content site PornHub.
“YouTube’s newly 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,” InRange TV said.