YouTube is entering the gun control debate with a new ban on videos which demo firearms or link to websites selling firearms or firearm accessories.
The move to ban firearm demos dovetails with the media platform’s desire to “prohibit videos with instructions on how to assemble firearms.”
Ironically, guns built at home have not been part of the mass public attacks that have drawn national attention over the past months and years, but guns acquired at retail via background checks have been.
Bloomberg reports that YouTube issued a statement in coordination with new prohibitions, saying, “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 National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) said YouTube’s policy shift is “worrisome.” They fear that “educational content” may now be lumped in with prohibited firearm videos and everything lost together.
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.
YouTube’s new prohibitions come just days before students around the nation convene for the march for gun control.