Facebook and Instagram cracking down on illegal gun sales

Facebook issued new regulations that limits posts to users over 18

WRITTEN BY: Stephanie Choporis
Facebook talking about socially reshaping the web at Mozcon
Image Source: Thos Ballantyne via Flickr
Facebook talking about socially reshaping the web at Mozcon

With new regulations in place, Facebook and Instagram are trying to put a stop to illegal gun sales through their social networks.

In a Wednesday announcement, Facebook said it would “not permit people to post offers to sell regulated items that indicate a willingness to evade or help others evade the law.”

More specifically, the social media giant plans to make posts regarding firearm transactions only viewable to users over 18, warn individuals promoting weapon sales to adhere to laws, and introduce “in-app” education on Instagram for those who search for gun promotions.

Forbes reports that Facebook and Instagram will also delete posts offering to buy or sell guns without background checks, as this is often an indicator that the buyer or seller could be a minor or felon trying to dodge the law.

Until now, social media users of all ages were allowed to freely post pictures of weapons. In fact, the Daily Beast reported last year that firearms purchasers could easily search for Instagram items by combining hashtags, such as “#rifle” and “#forsale,” before privately arranging payment and delivery.

Facebook worked with several groups and individuals to implement these changes, including New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Sandy Hook Promise and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.

However, the National Rifle Association (NRA) finds the new measures unconstitutional for gun owners. Chris Cox, executive director for the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action, said such organizations “tried to pressure Facebook into shutting down discussion of Second Amendment issues on its social media platforms.”

In its statement, Facebook considered the decision challenging, saying “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 negative consequences elsewhere.”

The new regulations are expected to take effect in the next few weeks.

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