Facebook gun posts are coming under the social media giant’s regulations, and those postings that feature potential gun sales absent federal guidelines – such as those with no background checks or those that are sold over state lines – will be taken down. Facebook also said they will block the accounts of minors from seeing postings of any weapon sales.
Monika Bickert, Head of Facebook’s Global Policy Management, wrote the following:
Facebook, at its heart, is about helping people connect and communicate. Because of the diversity of people and cultures on our services, we know that people sometimes post or share things that may be controversial or objectionable. We work hard to find a balance between enabling people to express themselves about topics that are important to them, and creating an environment that is safe and respectful.
Specific directives announced by Facebook today include:
- Messages sent to anyone posting gun related sales reminding the user that he or she must comply with relevant laws and regulations. Facebook will also limit the access to gun posts to users over the age of 18.
- The company will provide “special in-app education on Instagram for those who search for sales or promotions of firearms.”
- Other Facebook users will be able to “flag” accounts that are not in compliance with the above guidelines.
Facebook will also not permit individuals 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.’”
The change comes as a win for activists like Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and Mayors Against Illegal Guns – groups that have been lobbying for more restrictive gun policies for both online sellers and retail locations.
“On the same site that people are sharing birthday parties and family reunions, there are photos of AK-47s,” says John Feinblatt, chairman of Mayors Against Illegal Guns. “This is not in the bowels of Facebook. This is upfront, center and easy to access.”
Facebook gun traders are unhappy with what they see as a blanket and inequitable targeting of all gun related posts. Some have responded with their own petition. One such petition, carried by Change.org, is entitled Keep Facebook Free & Fair.
The petition says, in part:
“It's not ok to target only firearm enthusiasts for excessively-restrictive rules. If our culture is going to be unjustly attacked, shouldn't Facebook also ban the bullying, anti-civil rights hate speech from groups like Moms Demand Action?”
Similar petitions are circulating on a Facebook page called Guns For Sale, which has 213K “likes” and thousands of posts from supportive gun buyers and sellers.