Pro-gun vloggers have migrated to Pornhub because of new YouTube restrictions

Pro-gun vloggers have migrated to Pornhub because of new YouTube restrictions

It's a tough time to be someone who loves guns. In the wake of the Parkland shooting, where 19-year-old former Stoneman Douglas pupil Nikolas Cruz killed 17 people and wounded 17 others, more and more Americans are starting to question the Second Amendment: the right to bear arms. Survivors of the shooting have now banded together to form the advocacy group Never Again, which is campaigning for more restrictive gun control legislation and a nationwide ban on the sale of assault rifles. The group has repeatedly clashed with the National Rifle Association, and other pro-gun lobbyists, which culminated in the March for Our Lives protest. This event was attended by nearly two million people - making it one of the largest protests in American history.

It's easy to see why this issue has risen to such prominence in the public consciousness. America's homicide rate far outstrips other developed nations. Since December 2012, the date of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, there have been 1,600 mass shootings in the United States. However, even taking this into account, most of the guns owned by Americans are used responsibly and carefully - and I imagine that it must be irksome for gun owners, who take pride in their firearms and in their shooting, to be continually lumped in alongside mass murderers whenever the debate around gun control flares up.

On the internet, where firearm communities have sprung up on social media, new restrictions and content guidelines have left many pro-gun advocates feeling marginalised and persecuted. It's debatable as to what extent this is true, but one platform that has come down hard on pro-gun content is YouTube.

YouTube announced its intention to ban DIY and commercially-focused gun videos which "intend to sell firearms or certain firearms accessories through direct sales... or links to sites that sell these items". As such, gun vloggers have decided to migrate to a far more open-minded, and NSFW, streaming service. Yes, it seems like many formerly YouTube-affiliated content providers have decided to post their videos on Pornhub instead, in order to circumvent YouTube's latest red tape.

InRange TV, a gun channel operated by Karl Kasarda and Ian McCollum have announced their intention to move to the porn site in a bid to avoid censorship. In a Facebook post the two enthusiasts stated: "YouTube’s actions against firearms related, as well as some other, content over recent history has been increasingly arbitrary and capricious so there is little reason to believe that this new policy is not going to be used to hammer content creators into whatever corner they see fit. Over the last year or so we’ve seen our content be de-prioritised, flagged erroneously, demonetised by AI bots with little recourse, subscribers lose their notifications and subscription status without warning and more."

They added: "We’ve decentralised the distribution of content to multiple delivery networks. At this time we are currently publishing content simultaneously on YouTube, Full30, Facebook, BitChute and now Pornhub. We will not be seeking any monetisation from Pornhub and do not know what their monetisation policies are, we are merely looking for a safe harbour for our content and for our viewers ... YouTube has the global dominance over the public narrative and it is unacceptable, in our opinion, for them to threaten livelihoods and legal content regardless of whatever current moral panic is in play."

The National Shooting Sports Foundation has also been worried by YouTube's new guidelines and recently stated: "We suspect it will be interpreted to block much more content than the stated goal of firearms and certain accessory sales... We see the real potential for the blocking of educational content that serves instructional, skill-building and even safety purposes. 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 stifling of commercial free speech.”

Pornhub is currently the internet’s largest free pornographic website and had the distinction of receiving more than 28.5 billion visitors in 2017. All told, that averages nearly 81 million on a daily basis. However, compared to YouTube, it's barely scratching the surface. According to traffic analysis company Alexa Internet, as of August 2017, YouTube is the second-most popular website in the world, and nearly one billion hours of content are watched on YouTube every day.

So looking at it that way, I can't imagine that Pornhub is going to challenge YouTube's supremacy any time soon; or at any rate, not without significant backlash from more conservative members of the public. However, this state of affairs is all the more ironic, considering that last month, Florida's House of representatives ruled that pornography constituted a public health crisis, but did not argue the same case for assault rifles.