YouTube announced this week that it will be expanding it’s pre-existing policy against “harmful and dangerous content” to include videos that show viewers how to modify firearms vis a vis bump stocks and other accessories that may increase a gun’s rate of fire.
“We have long had a policy against harmful and dangerous content,” a YouTube spokesman said in an email to The Hill.
“In the wake of the recent tragedy in Las Vegas, we have taken a closer look at videos that demonstrate how to convert firearms to make them fire more quickly and we’ve expanded our existing policy to prohibit these videos,” it continued.
The California-based video-sharing behemoth also said that it will ban “videos that sell and promote firearms as well as conversion devices and bump stocks.”
To what extent this affects GunsAmerica and other pro-gun tubers remains to be seen. At the time of writing this, all our bump stock videos are still live on YouTube.
I don’t want to be chicken little and scream that the “Sky is falling” as it relates to free speech on YouTube but at the same time it’s hard not to see this as a slippery slope.
Just as we view Feinstein’s latest bill to ban bump stocks, known as the Automatic Gun Fire Prevention Act, as a way to open the door to more onerous prohibitions, YouTube’s expanded policy should be cause for alarm.
I’m not going to open up a can of worms here and talk specifics, but anyone who knows anything about guns knows that there are certain accessories, conversions, and modifications out there that improve the shoot-ability of a firearm.
Will the algorithm that YouTube designs to screen for gun modifications cast such a wide net that any improvement in shoot-ability is immediately flagged as “harmful and dangerous”? Or will it be refined enough to only focus on bump stocks and their ilk? And what happens if/when there is another mass killing? Will YouTube continue to expand its ban yet again, to include more gun-related content?
I guess we’ll have to wait and see. What we do know, however, is that censorship usually moves in one direction. Once it starts growing, it doesn’t stop.