YouTube’s new policy
YouTube’s announcement in March of a new firearms content policy is troubling. National Shooting Sports Foundation suspects it will be interpreted to block much more content than the stated goal of firearms and certain access any sales. Especially worrysome is the potential for blocking educational content that serves an instructional and skill-building purpose.
YouTube’s policy announcement has also served to invite political activists to flood their review staff with complaints about any video to which they may proffer manufactured outrage.
Much like Facebook, YouTube now acts as a virtual public square. The exercise of what amounts to censorship, then, can legitimately be viewed as the stefling of commercial free speech, which has constitutional protection. Such actions also impinge on the Second Amendment.
In what we see as a parallel situation, Facebook has repeatedly shut down the pages of legitimate and reputable firearms retailers that were following Facebook’s own rules. The interpretation depended on the reviewers, the vast majority of whom have little familiarity with NSSF business practices, let alone its products, and many of whom do not even do their work from American soil.
Both First and Second Amendment rights are essential to the liberty we enjoy as American citizens. In a very real sense, the de facto curtailment of the First Amendment rights of its firearms related business users. YouTube is edging toward simultaneously infringing upon the Second Amendment rights of the customers of thes affected businesses.
ALFRED B. PETTIT JR.