YouTube's attempts to crack down on content they deem violent or otherwise harmful seem to be continuing with their latest platform policy changes. According to Motherboard, the company is instituting some tough new rules for channels that create content surrounding the use or modification of firearms.
Specifically, the company will no longer allow content that "Intends to sell firearms or certain firearms accessories through direct sales...or links to sites that sell these items." As some firearm manufacturers and firearm accessory companies use YouTube as a way to advertise their products, this sudden rule change is likely going to upset quite a few channel owners.
Slingshot channel owner Jörg Sprave, on the other hand, appreciates YouTube's attempts to make their guidelines clear but also feels the way the rules are being instituted is unfair to creators. "Many gun channels must now be afraid, as they might get plenty of strikes in no time for older videos and then lose their channels," Sprave said in a statement. "They should at least get some time to clean up their videos so the new rules are kept. Again, not the way you treat 'partners.'"
Indeed, some channel owners may already be receiving strikes or even suspensions for hosting newly-banned content on their channels. One such channel is gun manufacturer Spike's Tactical, who reportedly received an email from YouTube stating their channel was suspended for "repeated or severe violations of our community guidelines."
If it was related to YouTube's new firearm content policies, Spike Tactical's suspension would seem to contradict statements YouTube reportedly gave to TubeFilter on Monday. At the time, the video platform claimed their new rules wouldn't be enforced until sometime in April. We've reached out to YouTube for clarification. For the time being, the following excerpt from YouTube's statement to TubeFilter explains the company's reasoning behind their new policies:
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, specifically, items like ammunition, gatling triggers, and drop-in auto sears. We will begin enforcing these new guidelines next month. We recommend creators take a look at our Help Center and review their own content during that time.
To reiterate, it does not sound like YouTube will be banning channels that simply discuss, test or otherwise display firearms. Rather, it seems the company is only cracking down on videos directly promoting firearms or firearm accessories by linking to such products, presumably through annotations or description links.
YouTube's policies on firearm-related instructional videos, however, are much more restrictive. According to YouTube's guidelines, the company will not allow content that "provides instructions on manufacturing a firearm, ammunition, high capacity magazine... or certain firearms accessories such as those listed above." This ban also applies to instructional content explaining how to convert firearms to "automatic or simulated automatic firing capabilities."