Well, it finally happened. Last weekend, minutes after midnight on the very day my YouTube channel clicked past 30,000 subscribers, I received a “community guidelines” strike from the Google-owned company. You see, I . . . well, it’s hard to know exactly how I violated their community guidelines as they don’t actually bother to tell you.
YouTube prohibits certain kinds of content featuring firearms. Specifically, we don’t allow content that:
• Intends to sell firearms or certain firearms accessories through direct sales (e.g., private sales by individuals) or links to sites that sell these items. These accessories include but may not be limited to accessories that enable a firearm to simulate automatic fire or convert a firearm to automatic fire (e.g., bump stocks, gatling triggers, drop-in auto sears, conversion kits), and high capacity magazines (i.e., magazines or belts carrying more than 30 rounds).
• Provides instructions on manufacturing a firearm, ammunition, high capacity magazine, homemade silencers/suppressors, or certain firearms accessories such as those listed above. This also includes instructions on how to convert a firearm to automatic or simulated automatic firing capabilities.
• Shows users how to install the above-mentioned accessories or modifications.
And here’s the long version of what a YouTube strike looks like. It does not specifically state what aspect of the content violated their Community Guidelines:
Now, there’s a lot of chatter about precisely how my videos may have violated those guidelines. Sure, in the review video comparing the CMMG DefCan 3Ti, Q Half Nelson, and Dead Air Sandman TI, I show the process of removing and attaching a silencer. Maybe that violates the “shows users how to install the above-mentioned accessories or modifications” clause?
Probably not — you’d hope not — as the suppressors in my video are decidedly not homemade. They’re manufactured by licensed — in so many ways — corporations and are available only to folks who pass extensive background checks, are fingerprinted and photographed, register the silencer(s) with the Federal government, pay a $200 tax, and wait about nine months for approval.
Of course, throwing in “or […] accessories such as those listed above” sure gives YouTube a lot of leeway, eh?
But then again, as part of this same strike, YouTube also deleted my FN 15 Tactical II CA review video. Yup, you guessed it, that’s a California-compliant rifle. I provided none of their banned instructions and showed none of their verboten accessories.
My guess? I actually linked to Brownells, whose channel was removed from YouTube (it’s now back) something like 10 hours before I received my strike. Why? Because all of my videos link to Brownells, and the firearms-related content policies state that YouTube doesn’t allow content that . . .
Intends to sell firearms or certain firearms accessories […] or links to sites that sell these items. [ED: emphasis added]
Unless I’m missing something, that means all of my videos. Every. Single. One. That’s 423 of them as of this writing. Of course, it also applies to all of Brownells’ 1,797 videos, and they clearly just passed some sort of YouTube sniff test even though they focus on instructional videos, many of which directly intend to sell firearms and accessories and link to their own website.
I can fix this by manually editing each of my videos, one by one, and deleting any links in the video descriptions to Brownells or other sites that sell firearms or “certain” (but undefined) firearms accessories (maybe even Amazon?). While YouTube allowed me to edit all of my video descriptions in one bulk action to add text, which is how the Brownells link ended up on all of them, there is no way to bulk remove text.
Worse yet, I don’t know if this is actually the problem. I could spend an entire day deleting links only to continue receiving strikes, because the links may not be the cause of this strike or potential future strikes.
Thankfully, all I have to do to appeal YouTube’s decision is to click the hyperlink for either or both of my videos and submit the appeals form. Considering the “…appeal_type=reject” URL I see when hovering my mouse cursor over the links, I won’t get my hopes up. What kind of shameless and utter bulls**t is this, anyway?!?!
Bottom line? I’m showing and using legal products in a legal and responsible fashion, and apparently that’s not acceptable. I’ll be joining up at Full30 very soon, and will upload the two or three halfway decent videos I’ve made there and all future content will go there as well.
It’ll continue to post on YouTube as well, though, until and unless my channel is terminated (three strikes and you’re out). Like it or not, unless gun content completely disappears from the site entirely, YouTube is where the audience is.
In the meantime, if you’re so inclined I’d appreciate if you’d subscribe to my channel. Number of subscribers is about the only metric that matters when it comes to YouTube, advertisers, manufacturers (e.g. for borrowing review products), and others. If you’re feeling particularly froggy, I do have a Patreon page.