In addition to policing porn, drugs and alcohol on its site, Facebook, Inc. and Instagram will now delete posts offering to buy or sell guns without background checks.
Facebook will also bar users under 18 from viewing gun offers posted by individuals or groups, a move that is sure to curb the increasing use of social networks to circumvent checks and controls on firearm sales.
“We will not permit people to post offers to sell regulated items that indicate a willingness to evade or help others evade the law,” Facebook said.
The new policing measure will include the following:
- 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. We will also limit access to that post to people over the age of 18.
- We will require Pages that are primarily used by people to promote the private sale of commonly regulated goods or services to include language that clearly reminds people of the importance of understanding and complying with relevant laws and regulations, and limit access to people over the age of 18 or older if required by applicable law.
- We will provide special in-app education on Instagram for those who search for sales or promotions of firearms.
- We will not permit people to post offers to sell regulated items that indicate a willingness to evade or help others evade the law. 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.
The move is set to add fuel to the forever-fire brewing around gun control reform and the intense debate over gun rights. Already, many licensed gun dealers and private individuals use Facebook pages to advertise firearms they are looking to sell or trade.
According to Buzzfeed:
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives confirmed for BuzzFeed that any sale inspired by a Facebook post is legal as long as the buyer and seller comply with federal law by not selling guns across state lines in places where it’s illegal and a formal background check takes place.
But Facebook insists their new changes were necessary to close loopholes that allow individuals to purchase guns without background checks.
Facebook said the policy change was made in consultation with a number of individuals and organizations, including New York state Attorney General Attorney Eric Schneiderman, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, Sandy Hook Promise and Moms Demand Action, which drew attention to loopholes on the Internet that allowed private sales of firearms without background checks.
“Our campaign exposed how simple it is for dangerous people to get their hands on guns, no questions asked – not only on Facebook and Instagram – but across the Internet,” Mayors Against Illegal Guns Chairman John Feinblatt said in a joint statement with Moms Demand Action.
The debate is sure to continue, but has Facebook gone too far, or is their effort to close loopholes exactly what we need? Sound off below…