Manhattan’s DA wants to know why YouTube is pushing ‘ghost gun’ tutorials to kids


Alvin Bragg, Manhattan’s District Attorney, wants to meet with YouTube CEO Neal Mohan to discuss why the website allows the posting of videos on how to manufacture “ghost guns” and why its algorithm is pushing them to underage viewers who watch video game content. Ghost guns are firearms assembled using 3D-printed parts or components purchased as kits. That means they have no serial numbers, making them near impossible to trace, and don’t need any kind of background check to acquire.

In a letter sent to Mohan (PDF) requesting a meeting, Bragg referenced a study conducted by the Tech Transparency Project in 2023, wherein it created four test YouTube accounts and gave them the profiles of 14-year-old and 9-year-old boys. Apparently, after playing at least 100 gaming videos, YouTube’s algorithm started recommending them instructional videos on how to make ghost guns. It doesn’t matter if they’d only watched, say, Call of Duty gameplay videos and had never interacted with any content featuring real guns. YouTube still pushed real gun content to their accounts, as well as other violence-related videos, such as those of school shootings and serial killers, even if they were supposed to be minors. Bragg also called YouTube’s attention to the fact that there’s no way for guardians to switch off the website’s recommendations in parental controls.

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A lot of young individuals being investigated for gun possession in New York City said they learned how to make ghost guns from YouTube, Bragg wrote. While the website does remove those videos when they’re flagged by gun safety groups, the DA said YouTube should be more proactive in removing them, should make sure they get blocked from being uploaded in the future and should provide viewers a way to switch off recommendations. Especially since the website does have a policy that prohibits the uploading of videos intending to sell firearms or to instruct viewers on how to make them. YouTube told New York Daily News in a statement that it’ll “carefully review” videos the Manhattan DA shares with the company and that it remains committed to “removing any content that violates [its] policies.”

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