YouTube bans gun modification videos in the wake of Las Vegas shooting

10 Oct 2017

Mandalay Bay Hotel, Las Vegas, where the recent shooting took place. Image: Andrey Beyda/Shutterstock

YouTube is taking steps to update its content policy.

Video streaming service YouTube has banned videos that demonstrate how to use a ‘bump stock’ device after it emerged that Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock had modified his firearm using this method. He later used this weapon to kill at least 58 and injure more than 489 people at a concert held at the Mandalay Bay hotel earlier this month (1 October).

A bump stock adapts a rifle so that it can fire automatically, using the gun’s kickback to rapidly activate the trigger. According to The Telegraph, videos showing how anyone could add this modification to a gun were available to watch on YouTube.

Paddock had used the bump-stock device to make his rifle fire like an automatic weapon. While these weapons are illegal in the US, modifiers are not.

A YouTube spokesperson said: “In the wake of the recent tragedy in Las Vegas, we have taken a closer look at videos that demonstrate how to convert firearms to make them fire more quickly, and we’ve expanded our existing policy to prohibit these videos.”

Pressure to tackle violent content

This announcement comes as internet giants such as Facebook and Google are being pressured to act, with illegal and extremist content making its way onto their respective platforms.

There had already been a set of guidelines regarding dangerous content on YouTube, but this is a more specific ban on particular weapon modification methods. Before YouTube made this move, the company’s guidelines had said it banned “content that intends to incite violence or encourage dangerous or illegal activities that have an inherent risk of serious physical harm or death”.

Gizmodo found that there are still gun modification videos online and questions are rightly being raised as to why a company such as YouTube is only removing bump-stock modification videos after such a large-scale killing spree.

It’s obvious that there needs to be many changes made to combat the rising tide of violent, extremist and otherwise harmful content on sites that many use daily.

Mandalay Bay Hotel, Las Vegas, where the recent shooting took place. Image: Andrey Beyda/Shutterstock

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects