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Why is YouTube Deleting Bump Stock Videos?

The video hosting website falls prey to a hysteria.

Tim HarmsenTim HarmsenIn the aftermath of the Las Vegas shooting, both Republicans and Democrats have said they'd support a ban on bump stocks, which allows a semi-automatic rifle to fire more rapidly. Even the National Rifle Association has semi-endorsed "additional regulations" on the devices.

Now YouTube is getting in on the action.

The video hosting website has been taking down videos depicting the installation or even the mere use of bump stocks. These removals appear to have started on October 6, when a number of prominent firearms channels received notifications from YouTube that their videos featuring bump stocks were a violation of community guidelines on harmful or dangerous content.

The channels were also awarded a community standards "strike," which comes with the suspension of features like live streaming.

"Three strikes and you're done on YouTube and that's my livelihood," says Tim Harmsen, owner of the YouTube channel Military Arms. For the past three years, Harmsen's main source of income has come from his channel, where he posts demonstrations and reviews of firearms and accessories.

Harmsen received a strike for his four-year-old video SSAK-47 Bump Fire Stock for the AK by Slide Fire Solution, which depicts the use of a bump stock. The penalty, he tells Reason, came as a shock.

"No warning. Nothing. I logged into YouTube on the 7th after traveling and I'm greeted with a big orange page telling me I'm in violation of community standards and offending videos have been removed."

Harmsen learned of the penalty at a gathering of other firearms enthusiasts in Atlanta. Many of the other attendees also maintain YouTube channels, and were likewise penalized for depicting bump stock videos.

The gun website TwangNBang reports that the popular firearms channels 22Plinkster and BigShooterist also received strikes for violating community standards. Instragram has also deleted pictures of bump stocks from Harmsen's account.

In a statement provided to Reason, a YouTube spokesperson 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, of course, a private service, and it can moderate its content in whichever way it chooses. That said, it is sad to see the company react this way. As has been pointed out countless times, adding a bump stock to a weapon does not make it inherently more deadly, thanks to the device's sacrifice of accuracy for speed. A few YouTube videos remain that demonstrate this trade-off quite effectively. Removing such clips only inhibits people's ability to learn about the device, something that is particularly important given the nationwide debate about banning them.

Meanwhile, YouTube still features plenty of videos of people using actual automatic weapons. Removing videos of bump stocks, much like the calls to ban the device, is clearly more about pandering to a sudden political moment than about actually advancing safety.

Photo Credit: Romastudio/Dreamstime

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  • Kllxyzn||

    Because they have no problem censoring things.

    The question is why I should care.

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  • Rich||

    "We have long had a policy against harmful and dangerous content."

    "You know, content that makes, shall we say, the feebleminded go fucking crazy."

  • Brandybuck||

    Facebook claims to be apolitical and neutral, yet it still genuflects to the Left on command.

  • Juice||

    Facebook claims to be apolitical and neutral

    It does?

  • Longtobefree||

    Cite your source, please.

  • timbo||

    Why are silicon valley entrepreneurs and acolytes by and large big time leftist dolts?

    Because even though they are incredibly smart and creative, they were raised in the US brainwashing education system that has facilitated the abandonment of free market principles and teachings of the value of liberty. Also, usually most artistically creative people are leftists. Not all so don't get all outraged.

    The 2nd amendment was taught to me as just another one of our very valuable rights guaranteed through the constitution. I was smart enough with the further education of my parents to realize that these were great things. Not things tot be taken from others if I did not like them.

    Alphabet/youtube or facebook, you name it, is run by leftist imbeciles who created some really cool stuff.

  • Kllxyzn||

    I don't believe that's it at all.

    They simply believe that they can engineer things, because tgey already have.

    Leaving things alone is anathema.

  • I can't even||

    That's the explanation for the spectacular fail of the Hoover Administration. He was perhaps the richest most successful engineer of his generation. He thought he could engineer the national economy the way he did his mines.

  • creech||

    Does anyone else remember when, in the 1970s, libertarians such as Lou Rosetto (founder of "Wired') saw the electronic/social media revolution as being a huge boon for libertarian ideas because computer geeks tended to be libertarian oriented and would control its development? So, what happened???

  • Stormy Dragon||

    Walled garden system architectures (YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, etc.) replaced open architectures (WWW, E-mail, etc.)

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    That's because consumers prefer them.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    Consumers prefer censorship too.

  • Entropy Drehmaschine Void||

    Have you read WIRED recently?

    I was an initial subscriber and loved it for quite some time ...

    Now it is an orgy of progtardian leftism ...

  • timbo||

    That's my point. The education system told them they should dedicate their lives to service and community and the environment and feel goods. Maybe that's why they created so much content for free.

    They came up with an idea and got filthy rich which was awesome. They just never had to learn the perils of unions and crippling taxation and regulation. They were smart enough to get to skip that part. Good for them but they are still leftist imbeciles by education.

  • ElDuderino||

    I think you may be half right here, but it is helpful to know that these nerds think that "science" provides the proper direction so all we need to do is make laws and systems that force individuals to follow the perscribed behaviors.

    Note: Im not sayingscience is bad, just saying that just because science suggests one form of behavior is superior to another doesnt mean its a good idea to force everyone to take up that behavior.

  • Magnitogorsk||

    Weren't most people commenting here also raised in the US brainwashing education system? How did they turn out so much smarter than these rich, brilliant, wildly successful leftist dolts?

  • timbo||

    I'm obviously not smarter or more successful than Zuckerberg or the Alphabet guys for example. I do realize that government collusion in business eventually leads to corruption and expansion of socialism. I do realize that freedom of speech and not kowtowing to the leftist horde is more important than making myself feel good.

    These guys think they are being benevolent for a cause of fighting some boogeyman. For that,. they are not too bright and have no idea that they will be eaten as part of the "cause" when the scam fails. Any massively intrusive government carries the potential to be a socialist disaster. it start by being fascist first. Fascism of course being best defined by a cozy relationship between government and the most powerful corporations.

    My point is that they are good at what they do. It appears obvious, however, that they are incapable of recognizing the danger of the slippery slope in which a little bit of marxist socialism will end up being a whole lot if it. Then it is too late.

  • LarryA||

    If you work in a relatively new industry that the government hasn't figured out how to screw up yet, like computers, and you make enough money to buy your way out of petty regulations, government looks pretty benevolent.

    If you barely break even running a business the government helps you with, as in selling firearms, insurance, or food, it's easy to see just how "helpful" government is.

  • Horatio||

    How can so many TOP MEN be unaware of the Streisand Effect?

  • Crusty Juggler||

    The shooter's plan - or more like the plan his handlers concocted - is coming together.

  • timbo||

    What if it turns out this guy just simply snapped. No motive, no manifesto, no message to impart or crusade to champion? No person in his life that made him go nuts. No drug addiction.

    Just got his guns and went on a rampage because he lost it one night.

    Who will the world blame? Who can all people get mad at for 5 years? What business can leftists make out to be the devil?

    The inanimate carbon rod. That's who.

  • Jerryskids||

    Probably CTE disease from hitting his head when he fell down. I've heard that shit affects 10 out of every 3 people who get hit in the head.

  • Kllxyzn||

    Boxers were available for examination for over 100 years, but NFL players HAD NO IDEA!!!

  • timbo||

    Everyone I grew up with played football for 10 years through high school. Not one of them is nuts or has brain issues.

    Is it possible that CTE is another outrage, panic, crisis scare?

  • Horatio||

    He made a lot of plans to just have "snapped", although admittedly I know jack squat about such people and their typical behavior.

  • ||

    What if it turns out this guy just simply snapped. No motive, no manifesto, no message to impart or crusade to champion? No person in his life that made him go nuts. No drug addiction.

    I kinda wonder whatever happened to 'going postal'. The guy was, at one point, a postal worker. There used to be a time (when teenagers stayed the fuck off my lawn and) working for the post office was all the explanation required.

  • ||

    I can't fathom why YouTube hasn't banned this.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    THANK you.

  • Crusty Juggler||

  • Citizen X - #6||

  • Crusty Juggler||

  • Citizen X - #6||

  • Crusty Juggler||

  • ||

    or more like the plan his handlers concocted - is coming together.

    Paddock used a rifle either without a bump stock and with a bipod or with a bump stock and a bipod (which mechanically oppose each other).

    Reason posts a link to a site where 'legally armed america' is essentially arguing in favor of legally banning legal bump stocks or, at least, legally advocating their uselessness. The only way it could get more perfect is if Russian Hackers actually were behind the whole thing.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    Three strikes and you're done on YouTube and that's my livelihood

    Your business's critical infrastructure should not be under the control of a third party who has the power to unilaterally cut off access at any time.

  • Zeb||

    And yet loads of people go into business as government contractors.

  • Horatio||

    I guess, but you just described every entrepreneur ever, since suppliers, employees, and customers can unilaterally cut off access at any time.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    If a supplier cuts you off, you can switch to another supplier easily enough. Likewise, if they were releasing their videos on their own server, they could move their domain to a new ISP pretty easily.

    With YouTube hosting their videos, they're up a creek if they get shut down.

  • Horatio||

    Not always easy to just switch suppliers, especially critical ones. If YouTube is where people are going to find sweet gun vids then that's where the business opportunity is. Oh well, maybe someday there will be a widely used free forum for video posting, like...YouTube used to be.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    A better solution would be coming up with some sort of federated system that doesn't depend on a single choke point.

  • Bubba Jones||

    I think google is where they go.

    I am sure that any other video site would have no trouble ... bwahahaha.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    I'm going to cautiously agree with Stormy here, but only cautiously.

    When you place your entire mode of communication in the hands of another business which essentially 'owns' your content and can strike you from existence at any time, knuckle up.

    Having said that, I don't believe that Google/Youtube/Facebook are out of reach of condemnation for these actions. They've become Khafka-esque in their application of the rules.

    the analogy I like to draw is, imagine being arrested and thrown into the back of a squad car. As the door slams shut, you ask why you're being arrested and the cop merely says you violated the law, and directs you to the legislative website which is the top level link to all the laws that exist in that state.

    This is what Google et. al. are doing. They're banning people and when those people try to get an explanation, they're simply redirected to their terms of service page and told they violated it. They're specifically avoiding exactly what terms of service were violated because remaining vague allows the service providers a certain amount of power and leeway.

  • Bubba Jones||

    You just described being banned from a Reddit forum by an autistic moderator. And all Reddit mods are autistic.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    Having said that, I don't believe that Google/Youtube/Facebook are out of reach of condemnation for these actions.

    I agree they deserve to be condemned. But purely from a standpoint of pragmatism, you should avoid placing yourself in a position where you depend on a third party to do the right thing in a situation where they have no obligation to do so, and indeed may have a financial incentive not to.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    I've said it on these very boardz here a thousand times, you DO NOT OWN any digital content stored on a server that's not under your personal control.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Paul, are you the guy who said "'The Cloud' is just another way of saying 'somebody else's server'"? Because i've quoted that line in meetings.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    I may have said "that which is stored in the cloud does not belong to you"

    However, even if I came up with a thought that was original to me, doesn't mean that someone else didn't come up with the same thought independently.

  • BYODB||

    They could host these on their own website and simply post them to youTube with a link at the bottom of the video to their website.

    Then all you gotta do is continue reposting the video's whenever they get taken down on an alternate handle, created anonymously, because Google doesn't want to put barriers up for people to get access to their system they just want barriers after you're already in their system.

    Which is why it's a stupid system. It's far too easy to just shrug and say 'fuck it' then create a new handle and move on. I'm not sure why people get so attached to their handles and such. There's really no point or purpose that I can see unless you happen to integrate your entire life through their system. In which case, use an alternate handle than your 'real one' for your business.

    This isn't rocket surgery.

  • Half-Virtue, Half-Vice||

    Youtube, Google, is going full tilt into derp mode. The censoring and penalties they have issued are outrageous. Let's just say that it won't be too much longer before an Alt-Right content creator like ReasonTV wakes up one morning to a childish condemnation letter and a strike.

    Fuck it, deleting Chrome right now and moving to Pale Moon.

  • Half-Virtue, Half-Vice||

    Shit... Just realized I have a number of work passwords probably saved on Chrome. Also Reasonable is a must...

  • BYODB||

    Chrome stopped being my browser when they decided to go full-retard and threw their might against JAVA.

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    Removing such clips only inhibits people's ability to learn about the device, something that is particularly important given the nationwide debate about banning them.

    Heh, they probably see this as a feature, not a bug.

    I know, I'm so cynical.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    ...Harmsen's main source of income has come from his channel, where he posts demonstrations and reviews of firearms and accessories.

    I wouldn't be surprised if in the near future all hunting and gun demonstration videos become verboten.

  • Jima||

    Maybe some enterprising individual should start up a service to host all the video content that make the Left lose their minds. Call it Right Minded or something...

  • Sigivald||

    Harmful and dangerous because shut up.

  • AlgerHiss||

    Little Sergey Brin and Little Larry Page strike again: Your typical wussyified, sissyfied big data ass holes.

    Freedom and liberty are not part of these characters makeup.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    I'd like to see some journalistic expose on how these things are decided. Like if senators are on the phone with Google pressuring them to drop this stuff, a-la the Clinton administration in the 90s working with the Television networks to insert certain messages approved by the administration.

  • ||

    Like if senators are on the phone with Google pressuring them to drop this stuff,

    I assumed this to be known fact. As in, Joe Lieberman, chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, picks up the phone to Bezos and tells Bezos to kick Assange and Wikileaks off their servers or else. Bezos, within 24 hrs., kicks Wikileaks off their servers.

    I'd assume, depending on the sensational nature of your information, you could get Kafkaed with much less than a phone call from a U.S. Senator.

  • Longtobefree||

    Sounds like a contract violation by unilateral change.
    If you tube is a revenue generator (I don't do that, so I don't know how it works) then there should be some kind of contract, with notification lead times for changes, and requirements for acceptance, and all that stuff.
    Or maybe all the college safe spaces took up all the business law class rooms?

  • Bubba Jones||

    Private or not, it is wrong to retroactively change the rules of a business transaction.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    Have you ever read the YouTube terms of service? You specifically agreed to letting them retroactively change the rules.

  • BYODB||

    This is the problem. Namely that terms of service are basically a legal document that you should have a lawyer review, but no one does this because...it's just email right?

    Sadly amusing, but also the main reason I use false information on all internet forms all the time. Except for credit card payments, I'm forced to reveal myself then.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    What good reviewing it do when it's presented in a purely "take it or leave it" fashion?

  • Liberty =><= Equality||

    TOS are not a legal document at all, that's the point. It's an informal set of guidelines that neither side has any legal consequences for breaking. Absent a contract, anybody can legally stop paying anybody for a service at any time. And conversely, the person providing the service can withhold it at any time.

  • ||

    A few YouTube videos remain that demonstrate this trade-off quite effectively.

    Again, if not a bit falsely. The video in question does a better job of indicating a (lack of) fitness for purpose but clearly conflates rather fundamental shooting and statistical terminology to make the bump stock seem like some manner of unique beast when it isn't.

    It's plain to see that with or without the bump stock, he hits the target with the first round and then proceeds to say things like "Unless you want to not hit what you're shooting at." Rapid fire is inherently less accurate, the bump fire stock contributes to this negligibly at best.

  • Longtobefree||

    "We have long had a policy against harmful and dangerous content."

    " . . . . Which we freely waive for any left wing lunatic".

    This policy is only for the fool conservatives.

  • Sanjuro Tsubaki||

    Because they're gun-grabbing liberals.

  • sharmota4zeb||

    Things have changed. When I was a high school student in the 1990's, I took a weekend course about atomic physics at Columbia University. One of the days, the professor taught us how to make nuclear bombs.

  • Stephdumas||

    Youtube taken down one of E.T. Williams channels he used under the alias of Doctor of Common Sense.
    https://youtu.be/H8b1-VIlews And they goes against Mark Dice, Diamond and Silk.

  • macsnafu||

    YouTube keeps doing dumb stuff like this. At this rate, it'll soon be the MySpace of video sites because some other site will overtake them. I see that Vimeo's been doing heavy advertising lately...

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