YouTube is defending pulling live streamed footage of the Virginia gun rights rally saying it’s in-line with its policies. The company halted personal live streams as well as professional media live streams throughout Viriginia’s Lobby Day.
According to YouTube’s policy, content “intended to sell firearms, instruct viewers on how to make firearms, ammunition, and certain accessories, or instruct viewers on how to install those accessories is not allowed on YouTube,” and that “YouTube also doesn’t allow live streams that show someone holding, handling, or transporting a firearm.”
It’s YouTube’s position that since many of the people outside of the gun-free zone were carrying firearms during the rally that it qualified as prohibited content.
While plenty of people live streaming the rally had their feeds taken down, media organizations including WUSA9 were also affected. In the past, YouTube has made exceptions to their own rules for larger media outlets.
On the one hand, it could be perceived as a fair interpretation of their company policy, smaller and large live streams alike, but it is still a policy that prohibits streaming of a legal activity.
While a portion of the rally area was declared a gun-free zone following a state of emergency declaration by Gov. Ralph Northam, the surrounding area remained free for rallygoers and protesters to march while armed.
Speaking to PJ Media, communications manager at YouTube Alex Joseph stood up for their decision, saying “This is in line with our policies regarding content featuring firearms on YouTube. YouTube also doesn’t allow live streams that show someone holding, handling, or transporting a firearm.”
“Whatever your position on gun rights, media outlets should be able to cover a Second Amendment rally without getting blocked by YouTube,” said PJ’s Tyler O’Neil. “Carrying guns is not an illegal activity and protests like this should not be censored.”
“YouTube’s action against the Richmond gun-rights protesters is only likely to incense Second Amendment activists,” he added. “Like Gov. Ralph Northam’s effort to crack down on gun rights, this censorship will only help turn Virginia red again.”
YouTube has a history of blocking gun content and pro-gun materials, but they have ramped up efforts to remove it or demonetize it in recent months. Even GunsAmerica has been affected:
Our YouTube channel was demonetized, AGAIN, for no reason. The “offending” video showcased a product that is not even a firearm under federal law. It was simply a review, like any other review on YT. @TeamYouTube pic.twitter.com/HSNdPzakYM— GunsAmerica (@GunsAmerica) January 21, 2020