YouTube Imposes New Restrictions on Gun-Related Content for Youth Safety

YouTube is stepping up its game to shield young eyes from gun-related content. Starting June 18, YouTube will enforce new rules banning videos that show how to disable firearm safety features. Videos about homemade guns, automatic firearms, and accessories like silencers will only be available to viewers 18 and older.

This shift is a response to ongoing demands from gun safety advocates who argue that unrestricted access to such content endangers children, potentially leading them to trauma or worse, a dark spiral of violence and extremism.

Katie Paul, head of the Tech Transparency Project, praised this move as a positive step, yet she remains skeptical. Her concern is whether YouTube will diligently enforce these new rules. According to Paul, the real impact depends on YouTube's commitment to preventing underage users from accessing harmful content.

Highlighting the issue, her organization conducted research last year by setting up YouTube accounts mimicking the behavior of young boys interested in video games. Shockingly, these accounts were funneled towards graphic content involving school shootings and tactical gun training, even showing children using firearms in disturbing scenarios.

This change in policy also comes amid a backdrop of new challenges, such as the rise of 3D-printed guns. YouTube, owned by Google, maintains that users under 17 need parental consent, and those under 13 must be linked to a parent's account, ensuring some level of oversight.

Javier Hernandez, a spokesperson for YouTube, emphasized that the company continuously reviews and updates its guidelines in consultation with experts to ensure appropriate content boundaries.

YouTube, alongside TikTok, is a favorite among young audiences but has faced criticism for hosting content that could promote gun violence, eating disorders, and self-harm. The role of social media in glorifying violence has been a point of concern, especially as some recent mass shootings have involved perpetrators who used these platforms to broadcast their horrific acts.

Image: DIW-Aigen

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