In the wake of pressure from gun control groups, Facebook and Instagram announced Wednesday that they are tightening their enforcement of gun sales in their networks.
Facebook introduced new educational and enforcement actions for people discussing the sale of guns on their pages. The company will review pages that are used to promote the sales of guns, limiting access to those pages to people under the age of 18, and requiring pages selling guns to include language on their pages that remind people of the need to comply with relevant laws.
Instagram will offer an education notice to people who search for gun sales in their networks. Both sites will remove content that seeks to violate the law or represents “a credible risk to others’ safety.”
“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,” Monika Bickert, head of global policy management for Facebook explained. “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”
The move to incorporate restrictions on gun advertisements follow lobbying efforts by gun control advocates, which Facebook thanked in its new policy announcement, including New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Americans for Responsible Solutions, Sandy Hook Promise, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, and Moms Demand Action.
“There’s still so much to be done – by corporations, by Congress, and by local leaders – to keep guns out of dangerous hands,” Moms Demand Action founder Shannon Watts said. “Moms have momentum and we’re moving the country toward a culture of gun safety one company, one legislator, one law at a time.”
“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 added. “Unfortunately, the ‘private sale loophole’ allows anonymous parties to sell guns without background checks, and there are simply too many ways for criminals, minors and other prohibited gun purchasers to get them easily – with just the click of a mouse.”
And while gun control activists cheered the crack down, there is already a change.org petition circulating to get Facebook to “not prohibit firearm related page on Facebook.”