Facebook Cracks Down on Gun Sales

The social-media giant is stepping in to prevent illegal firearm transactions from being facilitated on its websites.

Web-King: The succession race is on.
National Journal
Laura Ryan
See more stories about...
Laura Ryan
March 5, 2014, 11:46 a.m.

Face­book on Wed­nes­day an­nounced ef­forts to bol­ster “edu­ca­tion and en­force­ment” for gun sellers us­ing its so­cial-me­dia web­sites, a re­sponse to grow­ing con­cerns that it has be­come a mar­ket­place where gun sellers and buy­ers can cir­cum­vent gun laws.

Face­book is not an e-com­merce site, and dir­ect fin­an­cial trans­ac­tions do not take place through its net­work, but it does provide an av­en­ue for users to ad­vert­ise fire­arm sales. Gun-con­trol ad­vocacy groups say the so­cial-me­dia sites, with over 1 bil­lion users, have made it easi­er to con­nect people who wish to buy and sell fire­arms without com­ply­ing with fed­er­al laws and have been push­ing the com­pany to ad­dress the is­sue.

For ex­ample, an in­vest­ig­a­tion by Ven­ture­Beat re­vealed that it takes 15 minutes for chil­dren or people without IDs to pur­chase a weapon on a Face­book page.

The new policy will de­lete posts that pro­mote il­leg­al sales, lim­it minors’ ac­cess to gun pages, and re­quire sellers to in­clude lan­guage about gun laws. The com­pany will also send a re­mind­er to any­one privately ad­vert­ising a gun sale — or any reg­u­lated sub­stance for that mat­ter — to fol­low the law.

“We will not per­mit people to post of­fers to sell reg­u­lated items that in­dic­ate a will­ing­ness to evade or help oth­ers evade the law,” Monika Bick­ert, Face­book’s head of glob­al policy man­age­ment, said in a state­ment.

Face­book will rely on com­munity tips to mon­it­or gun posts, rather than em­ploy­ing an in-house team to po­lice posts. In­s­tagram will send out auto­mat­ic no­tices to users search­ing hasht­ags such as #gun­sfor­sale.

Sen. Ed­ward Mar­key of Mas­sachu­setts, who pressed In­s­tagram on the is­sue last Novem­ber, lauded the ac­tion, say­ing “In­s­tagram should be for selfies, not semi-auto­mat­ics.”

The Pa­lo Alto, Cal­if.-based com­pany has been craft­ing the policy over the last year with the help of New York At­tor­ney Gen­er­al Eric Schnei­der­m­an and the gun-safety groups Amer­ic­ans for Re­spons­ible Solu­tions, May­ors Against Il­leg­al Guns, Sandy Hook Prom­ise, and Moms De­mand Ac­tion.

In rolling out the new policy, Face­book em­phas­ized that it was not try­ing to step on its users’ free ex­pres­sion.

“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,” Bick­ert said.

The Na­tion­al Rifle As­so­ci­ation down­played the an­nounce­ment, say­ing that May­ors Against Il­leg­al Guns was try­ing to get Face­book to shut down dis­cus­sion of the Second Amend­ment but had been un­able to do so.

But gun-con­trol ad­voc­ates call it a vic­tory. John Fein­blatt, chair­man of May­ors Against Il­leg­al Guns, said the move will send an im­port­ant “cul­tur­al mes­sage” to le­gis­lat­ors at the fed­er­al and state level. Schnei­der­m­an ex­pressed con­fid­ence dur­ing a press call Wed­nes­day that oth­er com­pan­ies will fol­low Face­book’s ex­ample.

What We're Following See More »
SEVEN-POINT LEAD IN A FOUR-WAY
Quinnipiac Has Clinton Over 50%
2 hours ago
THE LATEST

Hillary Clinton leads Donald Trump 51%-41% in a new Quinnipiac poll released today. Her lead shrinks to seven points when the third-party candidates are included. In that scenario, she leads 45%-38%, with Gary Johnson pulling 10% and Jill Stein at 4%.

Source:
PROCEDURES NOT FOLLOWED
Trump Not on Ballot in Minnesota
4 hours ago
THE LATEST
MIGHT STILL ACCEPT FOREIGN AND CORPORATE MONEY
Chelsea to Stay on Board of Clinton Foundation
4 hours ago
THE LATEST

Is the Clinton family backtracking on some of its promises to insulate the White House from the Clinton Foundation? Opposition researchers will certainly try to portray it that way. A foundation spokesman said yesterday that Chelsea Clinton will stay on its board, and that the "foundation’s largest project, the Clinton Health Access Initiative, might continue to accept foreign government and corporate funding."

Source:
INTERCEPT IN MIDDLE EAST
Navy Calls Iranian Ships’ Actions Dangerous, Unprofessional
5 hours ago
THE LATEST

"Four Iranian ships made reckless maneuvers close to a U.S. warship this week, the Pentagon said Thursday, in an incident that officials said could have led to dangerous escalation." The four Iranian vessels engaged in a "high-speed intercept" of a U.S. destroyer in the Strait of Hormuz. A Navy spokesman said the Iranina actions "created a dangerous, harassing situation that could have led to further escalation including additional defensive measures" by the destroyer.

Source:
$300 SAVINGS CARD
Under Pressure, EpiPen Maker Drops Prices
5 hours ago
THE LATEST

Amid public outcry and the threat of investigation by the Senate Judiciary Committee, Mylan has agreed to effectively drop the price of EpiPens. "The company, which did not lower the drug's list price, said it would reduce the patient cost of EpiPen through the use of a savings card, which will cover up to $300 of EpiPen 2-Pak."

Source:
×