YouTube is cracking down on gun videos. The video sharing platform recently updated its policies on content featuring firearms. According to the updated restrictions, the site no longer allows content that, “Intends to sell firearms or certain firearms accessories through direct sales...or links to sites that sell these items.”
The list of forbidden accessories includes, but is not limited to, anything that enables a firearm to simulate automatic fire or converts a firearm to do so, and high capacity magazine kits. YouTube's new policy also now states it will ban videos that show people how to manufacture firearms, ammunition, high capacity magazines, or even shows users how to install these accessories or modifications.
There are thousands of gun channels on YouTube. Some gun vloggers watched their videos disappear from YouTube on Tuesday night and they’re not happy about it. “Those [policies about firearms] are very new and causing some uproar in the communities,” Jörg Sprave—a YouTuber who makes videos about slingshot weapons and started a movement to unionize YouTubers—told Motherboard in and email.
Sprave said he's happy YouTube made guidelines clear, but unhappy the rules seemed to come out of the blue.
“As much as I appreciate that they are now defining their guidelines much more clear...they have imposed this NEW rule without talking to anyone beforehand and there is no transitional period,” Sprave said. “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. 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.’”
The new rules have already hit at least one popular channel. YouTube suspended the channel of Florida based gun manufacturer Spike’s Tactical for, “repeated or severe violations of our community guidelines,” according to an email sent from YouTube Spike’s Tactical posted to its Instagram and Facebook page.
This isn’t the first time YouTube has tightened restrictions regarding gun videos. After the Las Vegas shooting on October 1, 2017 it banned videos showing how to install bump stocks on assault rifles. As of this writing, however, there are still videos that describe the procedure, including one posted two days after the Las Vegas shooting.
“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,” read a statement on Tubefilter credited to a YouTube spokesperson. “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.”
It’s the same with this recent ban. A quick search of YouTube for “homemade silencer” returns dozens of results. YouTube also has hundreds of tutorials and experience videos for making napalm, dynamite, and assembling an assault rifle from 3D printed parts.
YouTube did not immediately respond to Motherboard’s request for comment.