Following mounting pressure from gun control groups, Facebook announced Wednesday it was establishing new rules on how its users view and discuss the private sales of firearms.
The social network, which also owns Instagram, a popular photo-sharing tool where people often advertise private firearms, said it faced a “difficult challenge balancing individuals’ desire to express themselves on our services, and recognizing that this speech may have consequences elsewhere.”
As such, Monika Bickert, the Head of Global Policy Management at Facebook, announced the following rules:
Any time we receive a report on Facebook about a post promoting the private sale of a commonly regulated item, we will send a message to that person reminding him or her to comply with relevant laws and regulations. We will also limit access to that post to people over the age of 18.
We will require Pages that are primarily used by people to promote the private sale of commonly regulated goods or services to include language that clearly reminds people of the importance of understanding and complying with relevant laws and regulations, and limit access to people over the age of 18 or older if required by applicable law.
We will provide special in-app education on Instagram for those who search for sales or promotions of firearms.
The company made clear that it will also not “permit people to post offers to sell regulated items that indicate a willingness to evade or help others evade the law,” such as specifying “no background check required” or offering to complete a transaction across state lines.
Two gun control groups, Moms Demand Action and Mayors Against Illegal Guns, issued statements hailing the announcement. Both groups had pressured Facebook to act.
“American moms are gratified that Facebook and Instagram have agreed to take meaningful steps to prevent illegal gun sales to children and dangerous people on its platforms,” Moms Demand Action founder Shannon Watts said.
“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,” added Mayors Against Illegal Guns chairman John Feinblatt. “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.”