When YouTube lashed out at airgun channels

It will be remembered as YouTube’s weekend of airgun horror: Friday 23 February to Monday 26 February 2018. YouTube took down some of the world’s top airgun channels. But now it has reinstated most if not all of them.

At first, it looked like a reaction to the recent tragic Parkland school shootings, and anti-NRA feeling across the internet in the USA, but shooters are mystified why YouTube should single out the sport of airgunning. Now it seems it was a YouTube algorithm that was over-reaching itself. One YouTuber, Andy’s Airgun Review, says on Facebook that his channel was terminated as a reaction to Logan Paul’s poor-taste film mocking a suicide victim.

Channels that were briefly terminated include four of the top ten consumer channels:

  • AirgunGearShow, 85,000 subscribers, 75 million views, the fourth biggest in the world
  • Expert Airgun Reviews / AirgunWeb / AirgunWebTV, 45,000 subscribers
  • Airgun Hunter Extreme Channel, 15,000 subscribers
  • American Airgunner, 33,000 subscribers

Among airgun companies to lose their channels were two big American retailers

  • Pyramydair, 59,000 subs and 23 million views
  • Airgunsofarizona, 45,000 subs and 13 million views

However, the takedowns were patchy. Some 12 of the world’s top 14 ‘corporate’ airgun channels remained visible.

Other channels received YouTube community guidelines ‘strikes’, like this one, which restricts access to their channel. Some channel owners commented on social media that the YouTube algorithm was flagging their films, and an over-zealous anti-gunner at YouTube, feeling empowered by the Parkland shootings, was making the decision to issue a strike. Others believed the strikes came from anti-shooting interests among the wider viewership, so they made all their videos private – though why anti-shooters should target airgunning is a mystery.

Ted Biers of the famour Ted’s Holdover channel made all his videos private apart from this one, an impassioned plea to YouTube bosses to stop the purge.

At the time he made it, Ted was afraid his channel is next. He writes: “The likely reason my channel has survived longer than smaller channels is probably due to me being a ‘verified Youtube partner’, as well as my subscriber and view counts. When you gets millions of views a month, a lot of flags are part of the deal. So, my channel likely isn’t as ‘sensitive’ to flagging as others. That said – better safe than sorry. I will be back as soon as YouTube gets a handle on the situation.”

Here is Andy’s Airgun Review’s take on it. He says: “The algorithm seems to have been adjusted following recent misdemeanours” – he cites Logan Paul’s poor-taste video about mocking a suicide victim – “Sadly the airgun community has been caught up in this for some unknown reason.”

“It felt like someone had taken away a child.”

Some airgunners speculate that this is a token gesture by YouTube. Shooting channels outside the sport of airgunning are not affected.

Ted also lists these channels:

  • AirgunWeb – TERMINATED
  • Airguns Air Rifles And Pistols – TERMINATED
  • AirArmsHuntingSA – STRIKE
  • AirgunnerSA – STRIKE
  • AmericanAirgunner – TERMINATED
  • DaystateLTD – TERMINATED
  • HatsanUSA – TERMINATED
  • HoldOverVlog – TERMINATED
  • UmarexAir – TERMINATED
  • UtahAirguns – TERMINATED

Fieldsports Channel presenter Charlie Jacoby says: “Taking down AirgunGearShow – a fun, Bristol-based, airgun kit channel – for any reason makes no sense. YouTube might as well ban the sports of carpfishing or tennis.

“Technically, the question remains whether this is a tightening of the YouTube algorithm, which means the damage has been done, or a few maverick YouTube employees who have permission to terminate anything they don’t like, in which case there could be future casualties.

“Airgunning is a huge sport around the world. At 12 million, the number of British airgunners dwarfs our 500,000+ shotgun certificate holders.”   

YouTube has made no comment about its action.

This story appears first on Fieldsports Channel, which is so far unaffected. More news as we get it.