Firearms and shooting sports enthusiasts and Second Amendment defenders say Big Tech, particularly Google, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, are becoming more hostile to them and Second Amendment-related speech all the time.
Advertising or boosting content related to firearms sales has been banned by multiple social media platforms. Branded content with weapons is forbidden by Instagram. YouTube demonetized popular gun blogs and even closed some without notice. In 2018, it removed Karl Kasarda's channel, InRange TV, without warning, forcing him to change platforms.
"It is unclear what the rules are," Kasarda told Fox News. "Specifically, with YouTube, they pretty much enforce whatever they feel based on their bias of the day. Regardless of your personal belief, firearms and their accessories are legal in the United States. So why are we seeing continuing restrictions and challenges towards content about something demonstrably legal yet not against that which is clearly illegal?”
Whitey, a co-owner of Four Guys Guns, told Fox News that having a social media presence had become nearly impossible for gun, gun parts and gun service sellers like them. Whitey’s blog used to get 3 million views a day, but Big Tech changes reduced that to a meager 10,000 per day.
- Twitter has a global prohibition on promotion of all weapons and weapon accessories for all paid advertising, so firearms manufacturers who legally produce and sell guns cannot advertise on Twitter.
- Following the Parkland, Florida, school shooting, Google not only began restricting gun sales, but tried to thwart would-be gun purchasers. Its botched attempt over-censored searches: blocking burgundy the color, trifle (a food), Laguna Beach, Top Gun the movie, the Sex Pistols and Velvet Revolver bands, as well as glue guns, nail guns, Nerf guns and water guns.
- In 2019, YouTube increased punishments for violating its Community Guidelines and demonetized firearms channels. Some gun and shooting sports enthusiasts fed up with the increasingly “hostile environment” abandoned YouTube, prompting GetZone.com to welcome them to its digital platform.
- In late 2019, Instagram cracked down prohibiting branded content on weapons including guns, e-cigarettes and vaping.
- YouTube also implemented strict policies against selling firearms or accessories, instructions on manufacturing guns, ammo or accessories and even linking to sites that sell such products in 2018. Before then, YouTube banned videos explicitly promoting gun sales. It also started taking away ad eligibility from popular firearms channels in 2017.
- Facebook has tightened its gun policies in recent years. It began banning private gun, ammo or parts sales in 2016 on both Facebook and Instagram. But it has allowed firearms retailers to engage in commercial activity.
- Developers told Pocket Gamer Apple started rejecting game apps and updates if they included firearms imagery in 2015. Many had to alter screenshots and game previews to prevent rejection by the App Store.
- Lobbying by anti-gun groups including Michael Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns persuaded Facebook to block minors’ ability to see gun sale posts in 2014. Facebook also said it would remove any sales across state lines or ones that don’t require a background check. It extended the policy to Instagram, requiring a user to view a pop up about the applicable laws before viewing a gun sale-related post.
- Google took its first anti-gun steps in 2012, when it decided to make all shopping results “family safe.” Before that policy change, gun-related products appeared in shopping searches. The new policy blocked adult content including guns, ammo, knives, vehicles, tobacco and other items.