Facebook cracks down on illegal guns posts
Under pressure from anti-violence groups, the social media site said it will remove illegal offers to sell firearms across state lines or without background checks.
By Jeff Elder, The Wall Street Journal
Facebook (FB) on Wednesday announced new restrictions on promoting guns on the social network, amid pressure from groups favoring gun control.
In a blog post, Facebook said it would remove offers to illegally sell guns without background checks or across state lines. Facebook will notify users offering to sell guns of relevant laws and limit the visibility of posts and pages about gun sales to users 18 and older. When users search for guns on its Instagram site, Facebook said it would display messages about gun laws.
Facebook said it would rely on users to report posts and pages offering to sell guns. It said the changes will be implemented over the next few weeks. "We will respond to posts that signal attempts to evade the law so we can delete them," a spokesman said.
The changes come after a six-week campaign by the advocacy groups Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, which posted a video in February depicting offers to sell guns illegally on Facebook. The groups planned to deliver more than 130,000 petitions seeking a crackdown on posts about illegal gun sales to Facebook headquarters before the company agreed to the new policies.
Last week, technology news site VentureBeat reported that it arranged to buy a gun illegally on Facebook in 15 minutes, and The Wall Street Journal reported assault-weapons parts and concealed-carry weapon holsters have been advertised to teens on Facebook.Illegal gun activity on Facebook "is in many cases blatant," said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who also had been talking to Facebook about its gun policies, called the changes "probably the strongest step ever taken to end" illegal firearms sales on social media.
Critics have cited Facebook pages such as Guns For Sale, a "community" page with 213,000 "likes," which often posts multiple photos a day of firearms for sale. In a statement on its Facebook page Wednesday, Guns For Sale said it was designed to aid legal firearm sales. "We applaud Facebook for taking a deeper look into this issue," the statement said.
Danny Herrera submitted a photo of a rifle for sale that was posted by the Guns For Sale page on Monday. Herrera, who lives in Southern California, said he plans to sell the gun legally, through a gun shop, and would require the buyer to act through a gun shop. Herrera said he previously sold a gun legally on Facebook.
Craigslist, eBay (EBAY) and Google (GOOG) have policies against users posting about weapons for sale. Google+, which, like Facebook, is not an e-commerce site, lists this policy on its site: "Our service is not ready to support the marketing of any regulated products at this time. Do not facilitate the promotion or sale of pharmaceuticals, alcohol, tobacco, fireworks, weapons, or health/medical devices."
In the blog post, Facebook said it would continue to enforce a long-standing prohibition against advertising guns or ammunition on the network. Monika Bickert, Facebook's head of global policy management, told reporters on Wednesday, "We've never allowed advertising the sale of guns and ammunition."
But several gun-shop owners said they had advertised on Facebook, and were puzzled by the rules.
"They didn't have a problem taking my money, and now all of a sudden they have a problem with my business," said Chris Kurzadkowski, founder of Battle Rifle Co. of Houston, which makes and sells assault rifles.
Kurzadkowski said Facebook's ad policies on guns "really frustrated me." He said Battle Rifle has advertised its Facebook page and promoted posts on Facebook, but Facebook had rejected a promoted post that praised the Marine Corps.
Sandra Simpson, co-owner of B&S Guns and Ammo of Lufkin, Texas, said Facebook ran a monthslong ad campaign for her gun store in 2013. Her Facebook page posts photos of guns for sale at her store along with prices of the guns.
The Facebook spokesman said the best way to characterize the policy is "There are times when brick-and-mortar gun stores can advertise on Facebook."
More from The Wall Street Journal
A person to person transfer is not illegal,right now,unless its done interstate(not sure on that though). So facebook is cracking down on a legal acivity?
It's a simple calculation, If you go to work, go to church, marry a good woman who has a good character, You won't need the handouts and **** the demos are giving to the one's who are the opposite of the above.
Now their trying to keep the iron shaped cross found at the trade center from being placed in the museum. Isn't it time we demand the majority of the people instead of the liberal bastards we have now. Maybe everyone is to worried about cell phones up some chicks skirt.
Next will be a liberal bill that wants to stop all gun advertising online.
LOL this is funny they will restrict under 18 from seeing ads..
Funny I know a few kids that lied about their age to get on FaceJunk...
Good luck with that FaceJunk......
If the activity really is illegal, shouldn’t Facebook be notifying the authorities before they just cancel the ads? Otherwise, isn’t Facebook effectively concealing evidence of what they believe to be possible criminal behavior?
Every controversial issue like this one that Facebook tries to take on seems to end up with Facebook hypocritically contradicting and conflicting with itself.
Who are they really trying to protect? I say they’re most interested in protecting Facebook.
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