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Connecticut Democrats praise Facebook for anti-gun measures

Connecticut Dems praise Facebook for gun control measures.
Connecticut Dems praise Facebook for gun control measures.
Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images

Sens. Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal, both Democrats representing Connecticut, praised Facebook for taking action against posts that feature gun sales, the Hartford Courant reported Thursday.

“We’re glad that Facebook and Instagram have taken a stand against gun violence. Their commitment to delete posts that offer gun sales without a background check and prevent underage users from accessing private gun sales demonstrates a strong sense of responsibility and other companies should follow suit,” the Democrats said in a statement. “The fight against gun violence isn’t something any one person or organization can take on alone. We’re going to get much better results if public and private organizations work together to curb our nation’s gun violence epidemic.”

On Wednesday, the social media giant said it would limit minors' access to pages and posts that offer firearms for sale.

"This is something we've been working on for a while," Facebook spokesman Matt Steinfeld told NPR. "We want to balance the interests of people who come here to express themselves while promoting an environment that is safe and respectful."

Monika Bickert, head of Facebook's global policy management, said in a press release the company "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 NRA accused Facebook of bowing to pressure from anti-gun groups like Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and Mayors Against Illegal Guns.

"The NRA enjoys 150 times more support on Facebook than Michael Bloomberg's Mayors Against Illegal Guns. That's why Bloomberg and the gun control groups he funds tried to pressure Facebook into shutting down discussion of Second Amendment issues on its social media platforms," said Chris W. Cox, executive director of the NRA Institute for Legislative Action.

Facebook said that it will not have a team looking for posts advertising gun sales, but will rely on reports from users.

"We encourage anybody who sees anything to bring it to our attention," Steinfeld said.

But that in itself could present problems, given Facebook's history of acting on false or misleading reports.

As we have reported before, some Facebook users have been punished for saying "thank you," while the administrator of "2 Million Bikers to DC" was slapped for simply clicking "like," an action deemed to be Constitutionally-protected free speech.

Worse yet, some have advocated submitting false reports in order to get conservative pages torn down, and it is reasonable to conclude those individuals would, if given an opportunity, submit false reports regarding gun sales.

One post we spotted, for example, said:

[I]t's pretty simple, you post a status, with a link to the page you want to down on it, and ask your followers to rapisly (sic) report that page as sexually explicit. it takes roughly 10-20 reports in 10 miinutes (sic) or less, and then facebook automatically takes down the page, and a human being never reviews it, even if they appeal.

Blumenthal and Murphy not only praised Facebook for the action, but praised the anti-gun groups who pushed the social media outlet.

"We also applaud the advocates who pushed Facebook and Instagram to implement these better, safer policies. These advocates are fighting tooth and nail to encourage Congress and private organizations to take a stand against gun violence, and we’re proud to stand with them every step of the way,” they said.

The new rules also apply to Instagram, an outlet owned by Facebook.



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