Facebook says that it’s banning users from coordinating private sales of firearms on its social network. The move largely affects transactions that take place on the site; the company will allow licensed retailers to advertise firearms on Facebook as long as the transactions take place outside of its platform.
The ban applies to private, person-to-person sales of guns on Facebook and Instagram, but not to licensed gun dealers. It’s a response to pressure coming from not only gun control advocates, but also President Obama and state attorneys general looking to restrict sales on one of the top sites on the Internet.
The company said it has systems in place “to review and remove content that violates our terms of service and advertising that is false, deceptive, or misleading.”
In a statement, Facebook head of product policy Monika Bickert said, “Over the last two years, more and more people have been using Facebook to discover products and to buy and sell things to one another. We are continuing to develop, test and launch new products to make this experience even better for people and are updating our regulated goods policies to reflect this evolution.”
This isn’t the first time that Facebook has cracked down on firearms on the social networks. In 2014, it started to tighten policies on posts around illegal gun sales after being pressured by groups like Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Moms Demand Action. Its policy already prohibits people from offering marijuana, pharmaceuticals, and illegal drugs for sale.
At the time, the company announced a series of “educational and enforcement” measures regarding guns and other regulated items on its platform. The policy update affected not only Facebook’s core service, but also Instagram. As it stands, access to posts about gun sales and trade were limited to those 18 years or older, and the policy required Facebook pages promoting such sales to include language reminding administrators and sellers to comply with laws and regulations.
In February 2014, VentureBeat conducted an investigation that uncovered dozens of Facebook pages with weaponry such as semiautomatic weapons, handguns, and silencers posted for sale. One of our reporters was able to purchase a semiautomatic rifle and ammunition in less than 15 minutes on the social network.