A number of airgun and air rifle related YouTube channels have been unceremoniously banned in the days since the February 14 massacre in Parkland, Florida. The vast majority of the accounts taken down were given no advance warning, a wide departure from YouTube’s official “three strikes and you’re out” policy.
Though a significant amount of accounts were purged, there seems to be no rhyme or reason as to why certain channels in the airgun community were targeted over others. Some of the channels that were taken down include UpNorthAirgunner, Clustermarc, DaystateLTD, RackNLoad, and Armurerie Auxerre; countless similar accounts remained untouched. What’s more, a number of other accounts that had been banned were randomly reinstated on February 28, such as: AirgunsofArizona, AmericanAirgunner, Airgun Exploration & Advancement Channel, AirArmsHuintingSA, UmarexUSA, Squirrel Hunter, and Giles Airgun Gear Show, among many others. One of these such accounts, HoldOverVlog, was terminated without warning, then denied reinstatement in a February 27 appeal, then randomly unbanned a mere ten hours later.
The purge comes after a hellish week for YouTube. Yesterday, The Outline reported that YouTube was similarly banning conspiracy theorist channels, and taking down gun videos. Several outlets immediately expressed concern that YouTube would get in severe trouble with its users for moderating content too liberally. YouTube confirmed in a statement to Bloomberg that these bans were likely all made in error.
“As we work to hire rapidly and ramp up our policy enforcement teams throughout 2018, newer members may misapply some of our policies resulting in mistaken removals,” a YouTube spokeswoman said to Bloomberg in an email. “We’re continuing to enforce our existing policies regarding harmful and dangerous content, they have not changed. We’ll reinstate any videos that were removed in error.” Despite that statement, it appears that YouTube has continued to remove channels erroneously and without warning. (YouTube did not substantively respond to The Outline's request for comment on the matter.)
Back in December, YouTube said it would be hiring 10,000 new moderators in order to tamp down inappropriate content, which seemed like a good idea at the time. But if the company is doing this poor of a job already when it comes to teaching its “newer members” what should and should not be on YouTube, it's not clear adding even more people into the mix will improve things in the short term.