YouTube, a subsidiary of Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc., announced a new policy that’ll adversely affect channels for those who hold pro-Second Amendment views. These changes will impact the many individuals, companies, and advocacy groups who rely on YouTube to reach their large audiences.
YouTube prohibits certain kinds of content featuring firearms. Specifically, we don’t 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. These accessories include but may not be limited to accessories that enable a firearm to simulate automatic fire or convert a firearm to automatic fire (e.g., bump stocks, gatling triggers, drop-in auto sears, conversion kits), and high capacity magazines (i.e., magazines or belts carrying more than 30 rounds).
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.
Shows users how to install the above-mentioned accessories or modifications.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation had this to say about the move:
“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.”
Undoubtedly, YouTube continues to land itself in hot water with this embrace of targeted censorship against those aren’t liberal or anti-gun. The platform has also censored videos from PragerU, which led them to file suit against Googlelast fall. In January 2017, YouTube removed a channel belonging to Cornell University law professor and Legal Insurrection founder William Jacobson. The egregious examples of censorship against conservatives are innumerable. While YouTube is a private company, them taking the wrong side on the gun debate will cost them countless users.
Prior to these swift changes, some so-called conservative YouTube stars were raking in big money from the platform. A change to its monetization rules has led to many in conservative and firearms circles to find other avenues to rake in money. Demonetization has specifically targeted conservative and independent video makers.
Will a viable alternative to YouTube arise? Time will tell. There are some variants to choose from, but a serious competitor to the popular video sharing site has yet to emerge. Perhaps a legitimate competitor can arise amidst this problem—one that doesn’t lead gun enthusiasts to PornHub.
Is “Big Tech” too big to fail? Some are arguing breaking up these companies will ameliorate these problems. (Like many out there, I’m torn but am more skeptical about this and corresponding government regulation being tossed around.) More realistically, competition is the best antidote to companies engaging in divisive corporate advocacy.