In recent years, YouTube has made it very clear that they’re not fans of the Second Amendment. They continue to restrict gun-related content to the point that some YouTubers aren’t even talking about guns anymore simply because their channels can’t survive being throttled by the social media company.
However, one would expect that news coverage of a gun-rights rally would be exempt from this throttling. After all, it’s news, right?
Well, it seems that YouTube doesn’t really care for news either.
As thousands of Second Amendment protesters flocked to the Virginia State Capitol in Richmond on Monday, YouTube livestreams of the protest started freezing or getting flat-out removed from the video platform.
“This video has been removed for violating YouTube’s community guidelines,” YouTube explained after taking down live coverage of the gun rights rally from WUSA9, a news channel in the Washington, D.C. area.
The WUSA9 coverage repeatedly stopped and then resumed, with this message repeating every time the video stopped.
The same phenomenon seemed to happen with many livestreams of the event. While a livestream may pause for any number of reasons — bad internet connection and buffering, for example — the WUSA9 video paused before YouTube took it down.
The reason for this? YouTube policy, apparently.
As our friends at our sister site PJ Media notes:
The social media site has adopted a broad policy against firearms promotion.
“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,” the policy states. “YouTube also doesn’t allow live streams that show someone holding, handling, or transporting a firearm.”
Examples of forbidden content include “Live streams that feature someone holding or handling a firearm, regardless of whether or not they are firing it. Note: this does not include firearms in video games.” In fact, YouTube has also announced it will ban “Live streams that feature someone transporting firearms from place to place, such as by carrying them or traveling with them by car, truck, or other vehicle. Note: this does not include firearms in video games.”
Well, that seems a little extreme, doesn’t it?
However, YouTube confirmed to PJ Media that this was precisely why they cut the livestreams.
This is a problem, though. YouTube damn near has a monopoly on video hosting, meaning it’s the only way many people can share what’s happening on the ground.
It was news, and YouTube throttled it because someone was walking with a firearm.
Look, I get why YouTube has a lot of its policy on gun content. They don’t want to be hammered if some maniac built a gun using a video they saw on the platform. I get that. I disagree, but I can see where that comes from.
But live-streaming a newsworthy event is something else entirely. YouTube needs to take a step back and recognize that all they’re doing is neutering itself in the face of the revolution in news they themselves helped to create.