Facebook banning private sale of firearms on social network

Facebook announced that it is banning the private sale of firearms on its social network, which can take place without background check.

While licensed firearm retailers will still be able to advertise on the site, the updated policy will forbid individual users from coordinating peer-to-peer sales of guns. Facebook already prohibits the private sale of marijuana, pharmaceuticals, and illegal drugs.

“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,” Monika Bickert, Facebook’s head of product policy, said in a statement. “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.”

Facebook first limited posts about firearms in 2014. The social network had become “one of the world’s largest marketplaces for guns”, according to the New York Times.

Under pressure from New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman and gun control advocates, the company agreed to remove messages that indicated an attempt to evade the law, such as posts advertising guns with “no background check required”.

At the time, Facebook presented its policy as a compromise between freedom of speech and safety. “This is one of many areas where we face a difficult challenge balancing individuals’ desire to express themselves on our services and recognizing that this speech may have consequences elsewhere,” the company said then.

Gun rights activists like the National Rifle Association dismissed the change in policy in 2014 as inconsequential. The NRA did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the policy updates.

Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, which helped spearhead the 2014 campaign against gun sales on Facebook, responded to the news of the ban, which she said will “prevent dangerous people from getting guns and save American lives”.

“Moms are grateful for the leadership shown by Facebook today by announcing that they will remove all unlicensed gun sales from their platforms,” Watts said in a statement.


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