The fallout from a wave of Terms of Service hard strikes, bans, and deletions delivered on the eve of SHOT Show, known as the "Pewtuber-pocalypse of 2023," is still being felt.

Guns.com has been on YouTube since Jan. 10, 2011, and we have racked up just over 100 million views in the past decade on topics spanning really cool guns like an operational WWII B-17 bomber ball turret, a visit with America's oldest living Vet at the time, interviews with "American Sniper" Chris Kyle and U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, and behind-the-scenes factory tours of places like Daniel Defense and Smith & Wesson

Controversial stuff, right? Well, out of the blue, as we had our bags packed and were headed to SHOT Show, we had videos deleted by hands unseen at YouTube, were hit with hard strikes, and banned from uploading new content for two weeks. Little to no practical information was given as to why. 

And it soon turned out we were not alone. 

The story was the same across the gun tuber community – a carbon copy in many cases. On the Thursday or Friday prior to the largest firearms industry event, YouTube got muscular on its community firearm guidelines and jumped off the metaphorical top rope on things as innocuous as screwing on a legally owned and NFA-registered suppressor, and inserting a standard capacity magazine into a firearm while safely on a flat range.

Some big names were marched off into the digital cattle car and have not returned. For instance, as of Feb. 9, Gemtech's videos page comes back with nothing, as does industry insider Texas Gun Vault. Zapped out of existence but then resurrected were suppressor giant SilencerCo, followed by Dead Air Silencers, industry experts like Ivan at Kit Badger, and media site Recoil TV. 

While not memory-holed like a vanishing commissar, other well-known gun channels got the same sort of behind-closed-doors working over with a phone book while in YouTube jail as Guns.com did. 

  • Classic Firearms says they got banned for 10 days with two strikes, something that sounds super familiar.
  • Mark at Fit N' Fire, who has one of the most wholesome gun channels on YT, had his own turn in the barrel. 
  • Hank Strange had all sorts of videos deleted.
  • Klayco47 had a three-year-old video deleted as an opening wave before YouTube body-slammed his channel further.
  • Mac at the Military Arms Channel and Mike at Garand Thumb reported similar rough trade tactics. 
  • Mr. Guns N Gear was suspended twice inside of a week.
  • Print, Shoot, Repeat reportedly "got slapped hard."
  • The NFA Review Channel saw its first strike in 13 years and had 22 videos deleted along with a two-week ban.
  • Robski at AK Operators Union had a seven-day ban and strikes.
  • Roger Barrera at QVO Tactical said he was suspended out of the blue. 
  • Scott at Machine Gun Dad, a great little channel with just 5,200 subscribers, saw videos disappear in the middle of the night. 
  • WhoTeeWho was blocked for two weeks. 

The list goes on...and certainly, there are many others who have comparable stories to tell.

 

So, what now? 

 

Well, with SHOT Show in the rearview and a lot of the freezes on posting new videos thawed, YouTube seems to have conveniently reversed some of its actions and, as detailed above, some pages are being restored and some strikes erased. Mistakes were made, so to speak. 

Borrowing the parting words of Butch and Marsellus Wallace, the "What now?" between the Pewtubers and Google-owned YouTube is a little fuzzy. Most have elected to remain on YouTube, where – for better or worse – there continue to be the most eyeballs for free online video content. However, almost without exception, all are also pointing loyal viewers and followers to alternative sites like Rumble, Vimeo, and Full30 (now Juxxi apparently), then encouraging folks to vote with their browsers. 
 
Perhaps, in the same vein that banning books makes people want to read them even more, you'll see a silver lining in these censorship clouds. The funny thing about human nature is that the more suppressed the content becomes, the more people want to find out why it is so "bad" in the first place.

Guess we'll just keep being bad. 

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