Why are pipe bomb 'how to' videos legal? Answer is alarming

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - By Courtney Lane - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - bio | email

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - The ATF says there is a lot of dangerous information leaked about how to make explosive devices over the internet. So, how is such harmful information legal? The answer is alarming.

They are all over sites like YouTube. Video titled "Pipe Bomb Versus Computer" that shows kids blowing up an old PC Has more than 100,000 hits. "Pipe Versus Piano" has more than 800,000 clicks. Then, there are the really alarming "how to" videos.

"It used to be you'd have to go to a library, you'd have to go get a book on this, but, now, with the internet, there's so much information out there and unfortunately not all of it's accurate," said ATF agent Tom Crowley. But, it is all dangerous, he added. "When you're dealing with explosives devices, they're very sensitive. They could be ignited with static electricity or just a spark or dropping it."

But, it spreads like wildfire over the internet. Kids are encouraging others to blow up even bigger things. Crowley says he has seen too many home videos where they play without proper precautions and with illegal material.

"We've had cases where they've maimed themselves and ruined their lives at such a young age," said Crowley.

Local lawyers we talked to say under freedom of speech it is a hard tight rope. As long as a video or article is not threatening someone or organizing an act of violence, they can get away with posting it. That is why you will see a lot of disclaimers. But, keep in mind manufacturing pipe bombs is a federal offense and law enforcement also uses these videos for evidence.

On YouTube, users can also "flag" content they feel is inappropriate. YouTube says they then review it and can remove it from the system within minutes if it violates their guidelines.

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