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Restricted By YouTube, Gun Enthusiasts Are Taking Their Videos To Pornhub

Hosts of InRangeTV compare firearms. The show decided to put its videos on Pornhub after YouTube announced that it would ban certain instructional firearms videos.
Screenshot by NPR
Hosts of InRangeTV compare firearms. The show decided to put its videos on Pornhub after YouTube announced that it would ban certain instructional firearms videos.

The battle over firearms has officially entered the digital realm. YouTube announced that it will place more restrictions on firearms videos hosted on its website, and the move has angered some gun enthusiasts who are now publishing their content on a large porn site.

Starting next month, YouTube will ban videos that offer instructions on how to make firearms and accessories such as silencers and bump stocks. It will prohibit content in which firearms and accessories are sold, both directly and through other websites. Videos on how to install firearms modifications will also be barred.

YouTube says the changes expand on existing policies. "We routinely make updates and adjustments to our enforcement guidelines across all of our policies," a spokesperson for YouTube 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."

In the fall, YouTube banned videos that featured advice on how to make guns fire more quickly, such as by using bump stock devices. The move came after 58 people were killed in the Las Vegas mass shooting on Oct. 1.

According to YouTube, the current policy changes were developed over the last four months and with outside firearms experts. Video creators receive 30-days notice so that they can delete or edit their videos.

But the decision quickly upset some gun supporters who have, according to the BBC, already seen their channels get suspended and their video content taken down. YouTube says it's possible that material was removed because it violated older policies.

Spike's Tactical, a Florida-based manufacturer, posted on Facebook, "The Liberal Left will slowly chip away at our freedoms and erode our rights, and the first step is to squelch our voice. To say we're f*cking pissed is an understatement." (According to the American Bar, the First Amendment "limits the government's ability to suppress speech," but doesn't bar such suppression by private companies.)

InRangeTV, which has some 144,000 subscribers on its YouTube channel, has chosen to publish videos on an adult website called Pornhub, Bloomberg reported. A search on the site yields five videos currently uploaded by InRangeTV. Visitors can watch a video where hosts compare a Glock 19 and a Hudson H9, just as it appears on YouTube.

InRangeTV also recently wrote on Facebook that it is defending "freedom of expression on the internet. ... Why are we seeing continuing restrictions and challenges towards content about something demonstrably legal yet not against that which is clearly illegal?" It then posted links to YouTube videos on synthesizing meth and other illicit acts.

A YouTube spokesperson tells NPR such videos also violate policies and should be removed. Generally, people flag content and then it goes into a queue for employees to review.

Through their policies, tech companies in Silicon Valley have incited anger on both the right and left. After violence broke out at a far-right rally in Charlottesville, Va., last August, a user of website Patreon urged people to help him identify white supremacists. The website then removed his page out of concern that it violated people's privacy, reported The New Yorker.

Later in August, domain registrar GoDaddy banned neo-Nazi site Daily Stormer after public outcry, and then Google stopped hosting it "for violating our terms of service."

Even PornHub removes video content, though, according to its website, the reasons would be on account of blackmail, intimidation, revenge porn and copyright infringement. The website did not immediately respond to NPR's request for comment.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Sasha Ingber is a reporter on NPR's breaking news desk, where she covers national and international affairs of the day.