This week YouTube will begin enforcing new rules restricting gun videos that facilitate private gun sales or link to websites that sell guns. For content creators Ian McCollum and Karl Kasarda who make gun videos that were already being swept up by YouTube’s new content policing technology, these new gun specific rules mean that perhaps they’ll have to quit YouTube altogether.
The “adpocalypse”, as it has come to be known online, began last December when YouTube launched an A.I. powered automated content policing tool which removes advertisements from content that falls into the company’s broad “Not Advertiser Friendly” category, such as “sensitive social issues” or “tragedy and conflict.”
Kasarda and McCollum run two successful YouTube channels that focus solely on guns. Kasarda’s channel “InRangeTV” has more than 150,000 subscribers and McCollum’s “Forgotten Weapons” has more than 700,000. They both make content that violates the new rules but don’t have plans to change what they are doing.
“Watching a video is not an illegal act. Learning information or learning about how things work should not be an illegal act, unless we’re wanting to move into a dark age. If we really want to call information dangerous where does that stop?” Kasarda said.
While Kasada and McCollum recognize that YouTube is a private company and has the right to police its content, they view these new rules as a dangerous slippery slope away from freedom of speech on the Internet’s largest public square of video content.
VICE News visits the online gun video duo from Tucson, Arizona and talks about the climate for gun videos on the platform.
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