Political restrictions have been imposed to ban or demonetize a lot of legal gun content on social media. Hunting shows and channels that post content on YouTube—shows mostly survive on sponsorships from companies that make firearms and related products—now have to navigate around these vague censorship rules. This ideological pressure has worried a lot of hunting companies and enthusiasts alike.
According to a writer, he gets massive viewership across all his platforms and YouTube is the largest source of viewership, but he also uses other platforms owned and controlled by his channel. One can advertise YouTube videos using Google AdWords so long as certain words in the title or description like ‘Gun,’ ‘shoot’ and ‘kill’ are avoided. They obviously are not going to make it through the AdWords algorithms. Sometimes one can get denied based on animal cruelty and then when the same video gets resubmit, it’s accepted. This is a common experience amongst hunting/shooting video distributors who use YouTube. Perhaps Facebook may even be more restrictive.
Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to have banned a lot of hunters from their platforms after online anti-hunting mobs have protested against the behaviour of some hunter. Some online petitions on Facebook have gone to the extent of demanding that Facebook ban all hunting images. Facebook hasn’t gone that far yet, but it has removed hunting images like for example, Facebook removed pictures posted by a former Texas Tech student and hunter, who had posted photos of herself with the game she killed in somewhere in Africa.
As per official sources, Facebook removes reported content that promotes poaching of endangered species, the sale of animals for organized fight or content that includes extreme acts of animal abuse. Certain content, which some may find offensive, can be used to spread awareness, and we welcome dialogue about animal abuse, hunting, and other animal-rights issues. Many in the gun and hunting industry have expressed that they are working to create alternatives. A few said they were using block-chain technology to create new platforms free of ideological filters. Others had already developed new video-sharing platforms and sites that allow gun-related videos.
People also ask if or when sites such as YouTube would be treated not as platforms but as publishers. After all, if they are willing to discriminate, as is their right to do, then they are not acting as open networks, such as phone companies, but are like publishing houses that would then be responsible, as in civilly liable, for the content posted on their sites. Such social-media Goliaths spend a lot on lobbying in Washington, D.C., just to have the bread and eat it too. Nevertheless, times are changing. Even Facebook’s founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg have quoted that new federal regulations of their powerful platforms are “inevitable.”
As an alternative to YouTube, the National Shooting Sports Foundation has developed letsgoshooting.org and letsgohunting.org, dedicated to great shooting and hunting videos. The foundation is also working with private enterprise to add their videos to these libraries in order to improvise further, also considering launching an app, so that people will be able to watch these videos on their smart TVs and so they can download an app on their mobile devices. Regardless of the resistance to the sport, hunting enthusiasts shall always find a way forward.