The world’s top video-sharing platform said Monday that it would ban videos of bump stocks, the accessories believed to have been used by the Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock to mimic fully automatic fire. Yet hours after the announcement, the site still featured numerous videos showing how to install and use the devices.
The Telegraph first reported that YouTube had “deleted content explaining how to make guns fire more rapidly,” and quoted an unnamed company spokesperson as saying said that the site was making the move in light of a reevaluation of its policy on dangerous and harmful content.
Yet hours later, numerous videos demonstrating how to equip a rifle with a bump stock and how to fire it could be found with only cursory searches.
YouTube also still presents videos that demonstrate how to convert semiautomatic firearms into true full-auto weapons, which are tightly regulated under federal law.
In an emailed statement, a YouTube spokeswoman said, “We have long had a policy against harmful and dangerous content. In the wake of the recent tragedy in Las Vegas, we took a closer look at videos that demonstrate how to convert firearms to make them fire more quickly and we expanded our existing policy to prohibit these videos.” YouTube is only prohibiting “how to” videos, not those that simply show gun owners using bump stocks or similar gadgets.
Crucially, YouTube’s content moderators do not proactively search for videos that violate guidelines. Rather, users flag clips that they believe could break the rules. It’s possible the bump stock how-to videos that are still on the site either haven’t yet been reported, or that moderators haven’t yet gotten through their backlog of reported videos.
The company has come under scrutiny for its past handling of gun-related content. In the spring, many prominent YouTubers with channels focused on guns said that they had been unfairly affected by new rules regarding content and advertising, with ad dollars drying up over the course of months