YouTube has quietly banned gun-centric videos on its platform, plunging the website into the national gun debate that has been dominating US headlines since the February school shooting in Parkland, Florida that left 17 people dead.
Alphabet Inc, the parent company of both YouTube and Google, has faced harsh criticism in the last 12 months over its handling of sensitive topics on the video sharing site, including their refusal to ban vlogger Logan Paul outright after he published a video depicting a person who had died by suicide in Japan’s Aokigahara forest.
Besides videos that promote or link to websites selling firearms and accessories, including bump stocks, going forward YouTube will ban any videos that give instructions on how to assemble firearms. The move is due, in part, to pressure from gun control activists.
“We routinely make updates and adjustments to our enforcement guidelines across all of our policies,” a YouTube spokeswoman said in a statement. “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.”
Pro-gun activists have been using YouTube for many years, with some videos garnering more than 25 million hits. At least one pro-gun channel being suspended as of Tuesday, according to Bloomberg.
The National Shooting Sports Foundation, a pro-gun lobby group called YouTube’s ban “worrisome” and said it believes that such sweeping pronouncements could have fundamental flaws when dealing with content that isn’t strictly gun related.
“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 their own statement. “We see the real potential for the blocking of educational content that serves instructional, skill-building and even safety purposes.”
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