You may have heard that YouTube’s recently added “restricted mode” allows censorship of content that the company has deemed, “potentially mature content that you may prefer not to see or don’t want others in your family to see.” They screen for this loosely-defined content through titles, metadata, video descriptions, and other identifying data in order to restrict it from those who have it turned on. But what you may NOT know, is that YouTube has just recently removed all monetization for many gun-related channels due to new age-restrictions.
While YouTube claims that you can still monetize videos in restricted mode, they are also very clear that age-restricted videos are no longer eligible for monetization. This means that content creators who love guns and make a living creating gun-related content now are no longer eligible to receive the income that would otherwise pay their bills.
Channels affected include the Military Arms Channel, The Firearm Blog TV, Demolition Ranch, and many other channels that generate a significant amount of revenue through advertising. They have made videos expressing concerns over what this will mean for them and the future of their careers as creators.
Many channels are setting up Patreon accounts in response to the sudden change in policy that hit many channels last Thursday. Through Patreon, audiences can choose to donate to channels they think are worth supporting, removing the need for ad revenue (similar to buying a subscription to a newspaper or magazine). While larger channels may see more success with this method, the implications for smaller channels or aspiring new channels are bleak. Other channels are relying on sponsored videos – again, great for established channels, but not so exciting for smaller creators trying to break into the YouTube community.
All of these new changes to how and where ads appear on videos were made shortly after an explosive Wall Stree Journal article was published, accusing the Google company of allowing ads to appear on “objectionable” content. Since the article was released, YouTube reportedly is set to lose hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue as major brands, fearing backlash, are pulling their ads from all videos. The Wall Street Journal was also responsible for a large controversy around Pewdiepie, the site’s largest creator, drawing attention to content that could be construed as racist. Some have said that the WSJ’s coverage of YouTube as of late is a backlash from old media against new media; a way to delegitimize the platform and send ad revenue back to “safer” media outlets.
This is not the only social media network to set restrictions on firearms. Facebook also has heavy restrictions on ads that promote the sale of “dangerous weapons” including knives, firearms, and any accessories related therein. Twitter does the same. But these are ads themselves, not content. It remains to be seen what the future of media holds for people with a passion for firearms; for now, they’ll have to get even more creative to make a living.