Update: Shirrako's channel now appears to be slowly coming back online. Ryan Wyatt, tweeted that the company made a mistake by taking down Shirrako's videos. Wyatt was responding to a popular YouTuber in the gaming community, Daniel Keem, who posted a video in support of Shirrako and against YouTube's decision to remove his videos.
“YouTube’s Community Guidelines prohibit among other things, gratuitous violence, nudity, dangerous and illegal activities, and hate speech," a YouTube spokesperson told Motherboard in an email. "Creative formats such as video games can be challenging to assess but when content crosses the line and is flagged to our attention, we take action as necessary."
The original story follows below.
Earlier this week, I wrote about a viral YouTube video in which a Red Dead Redemption 2 player recorded footage of the game in which his character kills a suffragette, a member of the movement of women who fought for their right to vote.
Today, Motherboard has learned, YouTube not only removed the video from its platform, but entirely deleted the channel of Shirrako, the user who uploaded it. If you go to the video right now, you'll see the following message: "This video is no longer available because the YouTube account associated with this video has been terminated.
Shirrako told me in an email that he never got a warning from YouTube prior to his channel being removed. "I went to bed completely clean in terms of channel standing, woke up with the channel just gone," he said.
Shirrako showed me two emails he received from YouTube. One email is a "first strike" against his channel. The video, according to the email, was flagged for review, and upon review was determined violate YouTube Community Guidelines. YouTube has a “ three strikes” policy, resulting in a warning, suspension, and eventually termination.
"If a video contains violent of graphic content that appears to be posted in a shocking, sensation, or disrespectful manner, it's less likely to be allowed on YouTube," the email said. "We also don't allow content that's intended to incite violence or encourage dangerous activities."
A followup email from YouTube to Shirrako simply states that his account has been suspended for repeated or severe violations of the Community Guidelines, and that Shirrako is no longer able to access or create other YouTube account.
"After review, we've determined that activity in your account violated our Community Guidelines, which state that the promotion or display of gratuitous violence is not acceptable on our site," the second email states.
Shirrako told me that he disagrees with YouTube's decision and that "such censorship" will lead to all adult games to be a violation of the company's guidelines.
"I mean you literally rip characters apart in Mortal Kombat, why are those videos allowed and what I made is ban worthy?" he said. "It just doesn't make sense, no matter how you look at it."
As I wrote in my original story, Shirrako said he thought it was clear that the video was meant to be a joke, but as some of the comments—which repeated grievances of the men's rights movement or just plainly advocated for violence against feminists—not everyone saw it that way. What was most disturbing about the video is not that a video game allowed a player to attack a woman. Many games allow players to do that. What was most disturbing was that it found such a rabid audience, so quickly, and which in no uncertain terms proclaimed its hatred of feminists in the comments and on social media.
That being said, Shirrako does raise a legitimate question. Gaming is one of the most popular categories on the platform, and YouTube is filled with footage of violent video games. How does YouTube decide when a video of a Scorpion from Mortal Kombat decapitating a female character is just a game, and when is it promoting real world violence?