Facebook Takes Aim At Gun Posts
March 5, 2014

Facebook Takes Aim At Illegal Gun Posts On Its Social Network

Peter Suciu for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online

Facebook is now taking aim at posts related to guns. On Wednesday the social networking giant announced that it will block minors from seeing postings of gun sales and that it would further take down posts about the sale of firearms that don’t require a background check or cross states lines.

While advertising remains the main source of bread and butter for Facebook, the site already has strict rules in place when it comes to advertising, and does not permit ads for illegal drugs, tobacco products, prescription pharmaceuticals, weapons, and several other products and services, and restricts advertising for products such as alcohol, adult products, and gaming.

The company also listens to reports on what it might consider inappropriate discussions among users via Facebook posts.

“Any time we receive a report on Facebook about a post promoting the private sale of a commonly regulated item, we will send a message to that person reminding him or her to comply with relevant laws and regulations,” Monika Bickert, head of global policy management at Facebook, said via statement in the Facebook Newsroom on Wednesday. “We will also limit access to that post to people over the age of 18.”

Specifically it is firearms that the company has targeted.

“We will not permit people to post offers to sell regulated items that indicate a willingness to evade or help others evade the law,” Bickert added. “For example, private sellers of firearms in the U.S. will not be permitted to specify ‘no background check required,’ nor can they offer to transact across state lines without a licensed firearms dealer. We have worked with a number of individuals and organizations on the development of these efforts, which will be implemented and enforced in the coming weeks.”

As USA Today's Natalie DiBlasio reports, “The change is a win for groups like Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and Mayors Against Illegal Guns, which have been lobbying for more restrictive gun policies at businesses like Starbucks, Staples and now Facebook.”

“On the same site that people are sharing birthday parties and family reunions, there are photos of AK-47s,” John Feinblatt, chairman of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, told DiBlasio. “This is not in the bowels of Facebook. This is upfront, center and easy to access.”

Facebook had reportedly made the changes to its policy following consultation with a number of the aforementioned groups, as well as New York state Attorney General Attorney Eric Schneiderman. This followed a petition, which was posted on a number of websites including Change.org and SumOfUs.org, which called for social media sites, including Facebook, to crack down on the discussion of firearms sales. However, it appears that Facebook will have its work cut out for it.

Michael Virtanen of the Associated Press (AP) reports, “Under the new policy, Facebook would allow a user in Texas to list an AR-15 for sale, since the gun is legal there, as long as it wasn’t offered for sale in states where the weapon is illegal. But the company would delete a similar post from someone in New York,” which has some of the toughest gun laws in the country.

Moreover, AP added that Facebook “would also remove posts from any state in which a gun seller says a background check will be skipped, even if such checks aren't required where the seller lives.”

Supporters of the Second Amendment have already fired back, and the USA Report reported that petitions noted, “It’s not ok to target only firearm enthusiasts for excessively restrictive rules.”