YouTube is banning videos designed to sell guns

Companies are taking gun-violence prevention into their own hands.
Companies are taking gun-violence prevention into their own hands.
Image: Reuters/George Frey
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There are more than 60 million gun-related videos on YouTube, a search for the term “gun” today reveals. The Google-owned platform is stepping up its efforts to make sure those videos aren’t promoting the sale or manufacture of firearms, too.

YouTube will begin banning videos that are designed to sell firearms and certain accessories such as bump stocks and other gun modifiers that allow semiautomatic weapons to fire faster, it said this week. It’s targeting videos that solicit direct sales through private sellers, or link to sellers on the web. It’s also blocking videos that show or share instructions on how to build guns and some accessories, or convert firearms to automatic or simulated automatic firing, as well as videos that show how to install those kinds of gun modifiers.

The platform will begin enforcing the new guidelines in April. Bloomberg reported that at least one YouTube channel has vowed to take its content elsewhere, like Pornhub, in light of the “vague and one-sided” policies.

The policies are add ons to YouTube’s existing content guidelines that restrict the sale of firearms on the platform. The company said it has been working on them with experts for the past four months.

“We routinely make updates and adjustments to our enforcement guidelines,” the company said in a statement. “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.”

The move comes days before US parents and children plan to march on Washington Saturday in a call to end gun violence, following the deadly shooting a high school in Parkland, Florida, last month. Tech companies like Apple and Amazon were slammed afterward for allowing the National Rifle Association’s TV app on their platforms. And brands including Dick’s Sporting Goods said they would stop selling assault-style rifles and tighten restrictions on gun sales.