YouTube Policy Hurts Firearms Creators While Protecting Legacy Media

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YouTube has updated its Community Guidelines for creators, which will negatively impact gun channels by limiting their reach.

The new Community Guidelines for Creators policy was announced earlier this week and is due to take effect on June 18. Anti-gun groups and politicians have pressured Google to implement the updated policy on its video-sharing website, sending multiple letters demanding changes to the platform. Now, it appears that Google has finally relented and changed its policy.

The new policy doesn’t specifically ban any content that wasn’t already banned, but it does add an age restriction to certain content. Some of the videos that will be age-restricted to those over 18 years old are videos that feature 3D-printed firearms, homemade suppressors, standard capacity magazines (referred to as “large capacity magazines” by the new terms), guns equipped with standard capacity magazines, automatic fire, and equipment that simulate “automatic fire” (bump stocks, trigger cranks, force reset triggers, and other devices that speed up the rate of fire of a gun).

The age restriction means that videos will still be allowed on YouTube, but to be viewed, a user must sign into their account. This hurts a video’s reach because it will not be recommended through the YouTube algorithm, where videos receive the most views. It also will hurt the embedding of videos in websites since a user will have to go to the YouTube website to sign in to watch a video.

Also, advertisers are less likely to advertise on an age-restricted video. Different videos have different CPM (Cost per 1,000 impressions) rates. Since fewer people see age-restricted videos, the bid rate for ads on those videos is massively lower. This new policy is akin to a pay cut for creators who concentrate on firearms.

While GunTubers bear the brunt of the new policy, it’s hard to ignore the unfair advantage given to legacy media companies. They are exempt from the new policy under a “public interest content” exception, allowing them to cover the same topics as GunTubers without age restrictions. This policy seems to disproportionately affect pro-Second Amendment creators.

There are alternative platforms for firearms content, and although YouTube alternative platforms like Rumble have made great strides in recent years to close the viewership gap with YouTube, that gap is still a reality. Most YouTube gun creators believe it is only a matter of time before they are totally kicked off the site. Because of this fear, most gun content creators have started cross-posting to alternative video-sharing platforms. But until gun content is outright banned or if viewership increases on alternatives, YouTube will still be the main player in the creator sphere.

Many outside the creator world also wonder if this is just the beginning of a bigger crackdown on gun content on the video-sharing platform. Many on the anti-gun side have pushed for YouTube to totally remove firearm videos instead of just age-restricting them. Whether or not this move is just a first step to the total elimination of firearms content on YouTube remains to be seen, but viewers should follow their favorite creators on other platforms in case that day comes.