first published on November 16, 2020 by Josh Brooks[mashshare]
Imagine building a large following on social media, and turning it into your full-time job. After a decade of being an authority in your industry, you wake up one day to an automated notification saying that your voice has violated the community guidelines of a specific platform, and as a result they have deleted your account. How would you feel in this situation? What would you do? Mrgunsngear is someone that this has happened to, and we’ve had the opportunity to speak with him.
This is not a new or rare occurrence. Anyone who has been following the social media scenes for the shooting world has seen this. Creators like the Military Arms Channel, Tactical Shit, and a plethora of others have been on the receiving end of this in the past. Rarely a month goes by where a firearms creator isn’t completely de-platformed. Mrgunsngear is just the latest casualty on the Big Tech hitlist of dangerous thinkers.
I think it’s time we talked about it.
There’s a certain relationship that happens between content creators, and the platforms they publish on. In most cases, that relationship is very one-sided in favor of the platform. Regardless of the platform, be it Instagram, Facebook, Youtube, or Twitter, one thing is always abundantly clear. The platform gets the final say in what is and what isn’t compliant with the community guidelines.
But, what are community guidelines? What are community standards? Well, this is where it gets tricky. Those standards and guidelines are a living breathing set of rules that the platform has published somewhere on their webpage. Those guidelines are also a living and breathing item based on who is making the decisions behind said standard at any given time. This is something that often leaves content creators living in a world full of grey.
Uncertainty is the name of that game. It’s a line content creators in the firearms industry have to walk on a daily basis, and sometimes they can’t win no matter how hard they try. When unnamed individual working for a company disagrees with you, there’s not much you can do about it.
Over the weekend we had the opportunity to sit down with Mrgunsngear. If you’re not familiar with him, he’s a creator that has been in the firearms industry for quite some time. Recently, he has had his Instagram page completely shut down, and this isn’t the first time he’s been in the sights of big tech de-platforming. In fact, if you follow him on Facebook at all, then you already know that he is constantly in an uphill struggle just to get his message out, and to do his job as a content creator.
Here’s the interview.
“Oh jeeze, where do I start? Facebook is constantly removing my page. I always get it back, but usually on average it’s gone for a week to two weeks at a time. Throughout the election, it’s been way worse. Instagram in particular has been removing posts at a consistent rate of one to two posts per day, and don’t even get me started on YouTube. I’m fully demonetized there. I ran a test with YouTube just to see. I uploaded a video that was about a cookie on my kitchen counter. Literally just a camera pointed at a cookie, and I talked about it. YouTube demonetized it. I made another video explaining Joe Biden’s stance on firearms, just a simple video explaining what’s freely read on his campaign webpage, and YouTube removed it completely. Even after manual review, it was deemed against YouTube’s community standards.”
“On Instagram it’s been once per day throughout the duration of the election. On Facebook, I would say it happens two to three times per week on average. It’s always random posts there too, almost no rhyme or reason to the actions being taken against my account. YouTube? I’m totally demonetized. It doesn’t matter what I post, and as a result of the demonetization, my views are impacted and drastically reduced.”
“Diversify, diversify, diversify. As a creator, diversify where you upload, where your content can be consumed, and where your viewers can find you. As a user, diversify where you find your creators, and follow them on every platform they’re on. We need to use all of the social media channels until they won’t allow us to post anymore at all. It’s really the only way we can get our message out, and the only way we can continue to get our message received.”
“Alt Tech sites are good. Competition makes everyone better. The only way I see those platforms being successful though, is if not everyone on them is of the exact same ideology. The alt tech platforms have to prevent themselves from being echo chambers of the right. That’s just more of the same of what we already have, but it’s the opposing side’s individual echo chamber. We need less echo chambers, not more.”
“Regardless of who wins the 2020 election, there’s a thing called Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act that needs to be amended or repealed. As long as it exists in its current state, large tech giants can and will continue to make it harder for us to deliver our content. Section 230 of the Communications Decency act protects platforms like Facebook and Youtube from being held liable from failing to moderate certain types of content. However, it also gives them the ability to freely and heavily moderate content they see as “undesirable, or unwanted.”
I always see comments like this ‘They’re a private company, they can do what they want,’ and I agree with that to an extent. 100% I agree with it, if they were acting within legal constructs. The user agreement we have with these companies is a two way street, and they are not holding up to their end of that contract. We have no resources on our end as creators to hold them accountable.”
“Yeah. Big tech censorship is something everyone should be concerned about regardless of where you stand politically. Eventually, they will come for you, you can never be woke enough. Everyone on all sides should be standing up against big tech on this topic. Censorship is wrong from every angle.”
Our thoughts are fairly straight forward on this subject. We are a platform, not a publisher. While we have to take certain steps to ensure that we aren’t abused by creators or third party companies, (See the DMCA of 1998) our creators always come first. We believe that the first amendment of the constitution is just as important as the second. Even if someone has an opinion we do not agree with on a topic, they are free to share that opinion here. Full30 is a soapbox. Our creators stand on it in anyway they see fit.
In the future, we intend to publish a very public and front-facing document that will serve as our “Community Guidelines and Standards.” While the styling and contents of this document are still on the drawing board, I can tell you now that the rules of Full30 will be simple, and very easy to understand. Those standards, much like the Constitution of the United States, will also not be something that is up for interpretation.
While it is true that Big Tech companies like Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, and Twitter are indeed private companies, we disagree with their company ethos. Platforms are not publishers. It is not the duty of these companies to dictate what speech is and isn’t allowed. It is not up to these companies to decide who is right, and who is wrong. We are a public forum open to public discourse.
It is our hope that Mrgunsngear gets his platform on Instagram back. If he doesn’t, make sure you go follow his new page @Mrgunsngearsdock.
There’s really not much more to say on this topic, so I’ll simply leave you with this quote from Nicholas D. Kristof of the New York Times.
“There’s pretty good evidence that we generally don’t truly want good information—but rather information that confirms our prejudices. We may believe intellectually in the clash of opinions, but in practice we like to embed ourselves in the reassuring womb of an echo chamber.”