Facebook bans private gun adverts

A customer looks at a SIG Sauer hand gun at a gun show held by Florida Gun Shows, Saturday, Jan. 9, 2016, in MiamiImage copyright

Image caption

One group said guns bought on Facebook had been used in crimes

Private individuals will no longer be allowed to advertise guns on Facebook and Instagram, the photo-sharing service owned by Facebook.

Facebook had already banned the sale of guns without ID checks, but the new rules aim to stop all gun trade between individuals on the sites.

Businesses can still advertise guns on Facebook and Instagram.

The move comes three weeks after US President Barack Obama unveiled new restrictions on gun purchases.

Mr Obama’s executive actions included background checks for all gun sellers and the need for states to provide information on people disqualified from buying guns due to mental illness or domestic violence.

The rule change brings gun sales under the same restrictions placed on illegal drugs and pharmaceuticals by Facebook, that has 1.59bn users worldwide.

More on US gun debate

Media captionThe BBC contrasts President Obama’s reactions after mass shootings, with the levels of US gun ownership during his terms in office. (Video by David Botti)

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Texas women and their firearms – a photographer taught to shoot at an early age

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Guns at home – the question parents hate to ask before a playdate

Facebook “was unfortunately and unwittingly serving as an online platform for dangerous people to get guns,” Shannon Watts, of the Everytown for Gun Safety campaign group, told Associated Press.

The group said it had found evidence that, in two cases, guns had been bought on the site and used to kill others.

Everytown for Gun Safety was one of a number of groups that had called on Facebook to change its policy.

The National Rifle Association (NRA), which opposes changes to gun legislation, has not yet responded to Facebook’s decision.

In 2014, the NRA said previous moves by the network to limit gun advertising were insignificant.

In late 2013, New York’s attorney general, Eric T Schneiderman, wrote to Facebook, alerting them to “a number of groups in which users promoted the sale of assault rifles, handguns, rifles, shotguns and gun parts.”

Several hours after Facebook’s announcement on Friday, dozens of groups on the site advertising private gun sales remained live.

Some users writing on the groups’ walls suggested starting new groups under inconspicuous names to avoid detection.

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