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Why is YouTube suggesting ghost gun videos to young people watching video games? Officials want change

YouTube called out for videos on how to build ghost guns
YouTube called out for videos on how to build ghost guns 02:41

NEW YORK - More young people are learning how to make ghost guns online, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg said Wednesday. 

They're finding the videos on YouTube after watching videos about other subjects, like video games, Bragg said. 

He wants companies like YouTube to change their video suggestions

"You can go from watching a game like 'Call of Duty' on YouTube to getting a workshop on how to build a ghost gun with just a few clicks," Bragg said. 

"Potentially half of the defendants that come in to be interviewed mention to us that they became exposed to, or learned how to build ghost guns, through YouTube," ADA Bonnie Seok said. 

"What we want to happen today is for YouTube to not have an algorithm that pushes people, especially our youth, to ghost guns," Bragg said.     

A ghost gun is displayed in New York on April 24, 2024.  CBS2

From video game tutorials to ghost guns in a matter of clicks

At a news conference Wednesday, they demonstrated how easy it was to go from watching videos of games to tutorials on how to build a gun. 

"Within 10 minutes we get into videos suggested on building ghost guns," Seok said. 

The Manhattan DA's office has been working with the NYPD to tackle gun violence in the New York City. 

"We have never seen such a large percentage of ghost guns being 3D printed before," NYPD Inspector Courtney Nilan said. "They're made in different designs, colors. One thing everyone has to remember - once these guns are completed, they shoot bullets like any other firearm."

More ghost guns seized so far this year than in all of 2023

Officials said there's been an uptick in ghost guns and shootings involving teens. The NYPD said that so far this year there have been 23 victims and 11 shooters under the age of 18. 

What's more, 57 ghost guns have been seized so far this year, compared to 42 during all of 2023. 

Officials displayed weapons assembled by the NYPD, and said 90% of the parts were purchased online. 

YouTube responds

"Our policies strictly prohibit content instructing viewers how to make ghost guns or 3D printed guns, and we'll carefully review any videos the Manhattan DA's office shares with us. We recognize our work in this area is never done and we remain committed to removing any content that violates our policies," a spokesperson for YouTube said. 

The spokesperson said in Q4 of 2023 alone the company removed more than 3.5 million videos that it found violating its policies regarding dangerous content, including their policies on firearms. 

Some videos which show guns at use in safe environments may not violate their policy, a spokesperson said, but if it is considered not appropriate for people under 18, the videos might be age restricted. 

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