There has been a lot going on lately on YouTube and I know its caused great concern from content creators all the way to viewers. A lot of it is honestly ideologically driven and many of the decisions made by YouTube is not very encouraging. In this opinion piece, I want to take a look at YouTube's new policy and give my opinion on this in regards to how it relates to our ability to produce content as entertainers and educators in airsoft.
YouTube has been taking issue with firearm channels and firearms for some time and it comes to no surprise as Google as come out on many occasions to voices its stance on where it lines up socially and politically. While I will not be making a long and drawn out post about that, I do want to touch upon why their new policies against firearm channels are bad, bad for everyone. The simple answer is this: The slippery slope. Today its putting these limitations on responsible firearms channels, whats there to stop them from doing the same to your favorite make up channel or video game channel when they feel like what they say or how they say it doesn't not align with what they believe or stand for?
I do know that there is an argument that states "Google and YouTube are private companies and they have the right to do whatever they want as its their company." I totally understand and support their right as a private company to exercise their rights to do as they please but the same is not applied to other content, its almost as if there is a favorability of one over another.
If we breath and take a step back, we see that from the years 2015 - 2018 YouTube advertising revenue in the United States has INCREASED from 2.24 billion (Billion with a B) to 3.96 billion, that is an increase of almost 2 billion in the span of three years alone just within the United States. In 2016, YouTube already accounted for 20.9% of all video advertising in the U.S. and will have a projected user growth to 188 million users by 2019 (thats excluding people that just come to browse with NO accounts)**. With all these statistics we learn one very clear and obvious thing, YouTube is not doing this because they don't have the money to do it but rather its because its not what they align with. (Statical information HERE)
Many people that have firearm channels do it for passion of course, but many do it as their lively hoods. Many of the channels are educational and many of them talk about the virtues of being a responsible owner and user of said firearm. But when a community is demonized because of the actions of a few irresponsible individuals, then where does that take us as people as a whole when we look at other things happening in the world?
How does this affect airsoft? For some time now YouTube has put airguns and airsoft in the same category as firearms and deemed it "dangerous content", that was their prior name for what these things were called. When YouTube enacted a policy at the beginning of 2017 to put all "mature content" or basically all content they deemed "dangerous" under a default restricted mode it started to limit our viewership. What does this scary "restricted mode" do? Well, it was intended to keep the afore mentioned content away from people under 18. Which meant if you as a user didn't have a YouTube account which allows you to verify your age, you will no see anything on certain channels, you will come to blank landed page, like what you see below.
Not only did restricted mode hinder our viewership because now suddenly people with no accounts had no access to our channel but it also affected popular videos of ours being pushed to trending or even being in the suggested feed. As a very high volume consumer of YouTube content, unless I purposely subscribe to specific airsoft or gun channels, they will not be recommend to me unless I go and watch a ton of them and they are also channels I have already subscribed to.
While we at RWTV are not reliant on YouTube to pay our bills, it does hurt our us as content creators as we don't know what we can or cannot say or put in descriptions now. With the new guidelines we are not allowed to link to the "sale of firearms" but since airsoft is often looped in to the same category, does that mean we cannot say "for these cool products and many more...."?
This whole situation is not easy to deal with and its never easy to talk about while trying to keep personal politics out of it. While everything seems like its only pointing towards firearms channels, the potential of it affecting us and the sport/hobby we love is real. Going back to what I previously mentioned about he slippery slope, whats next and where does it end?