On Wednesday, Facebook announced new user regulations for posts about gun transactions.
Facebook's new policies prevent minors from viewing postings of gun sales within the U.S. on their network and Instagram, which is owned by Facebook. Additionally, U.S. gun sellers can no longer post about gun transactions that don't require a background check or post about gun transactions that will cross state lines. The new policies also allow users to report posts about gun sales and other regulated items to Facebook, which will then send a message to the poster about the laws and regulations that govern their transaction. Facebook has already banned advertisements for guns, ammunition and other regulated items on their site.
"We believe these collective efforts represent the right approach in balancing people's desire to express themselves while promoting a safe, responsible community," the company said in a blog post.
Pressure From Gun Control Groups
The driving force that prompted Facebook to add the new policies was a collaborative effort between two gun-control groups, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and Mayors Against Illegal Guns. Earlier this year, both groups held a month-long campaign, which included a petition that gathered more than 225,000 signatures, to get Facebook to change its policies for gun-related posts.
The L.A. Times reported that their campaign highlighted two recent criminal cases of illegal gun transactions on Facebook. One of those cases involved an Ohio man who illegally sold a 9mm handgun to a 15-year-old boy across state lines via Facebook. The other case was related to a convicted Iowa felon who purchased illegal guns from an undercover cop on the social networking site.
"Our campaign showed how easy it is for minors, felons and other dangerous people to get guns online," Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America founder Shannon Watts told the L.A. Times. "We believe these changes are a major step toward making sure people who buy or sell guns on their platforms know the law, and follow it."
Here are some recent examples of private gun sales posted on Facebook.
Some gun advocates are countering Facebook's new policies with a petition on Change.org. They are asking Facebook's founder Mark Zuckerberg to reverse their new policies for gun transactions. The petition has already surpassed 5,000 signatures.