Facebook Bans Private Gun Sales on Its Site

Facebook Bans Private Gun Sales on Its Site

Facebook, the popular social networking site, has moved to ban private sales of guns on its website and its Instagram photo-sharing device, a move meant to clamp down on unlicensed gun transactions.

Facebook already prohibits people from offering marijuana, pharmaceuticals and illegal drugs for sale, and the company said on Feb. 29 that is was updating its police to include guns.  The ban applies to private, person-to-person sales of guns. Licensed gun deals and gun clubs can still maintain Facebook pages and post on Instagram.

Although the site is not directly linked with gun sales, it has served as a forum for gun sales to be negotiated, without the users having to undergo background checks. The social network, with 1.6 billion monthly visitors from all around the world, has become one of the largest marketplaces for guns and was increasingly evolving into an e-commerce site where it could facilitate the transaction of goods.

Facebook said in its statement that it would rely on its vast network of users to report any violations of the new rules, and would remove any post that violated the policy. Beyond that, the company said it could ban users or severely limit the ways they post on Facebook, depending on the type and severity of past violations. If Facebook believed someone’s life to be in danger, they would contact law enforcement.

The social networking platform will also rely on users to report gun sales through their messaging platform. Facebook does not scan the content of those messages, so it will be up to the users to report anyone who is violating the policy.

This isn’t the first time Facebook has taken steps to regulate gun sales over the years. In 2014, it limited gun sales on its site and on Instagram, including shielding minors from Facebook pages  that advertised guns for sale.

Since then, Facebook has been inching toward facilitating e-commerce transactions. In December, the company introduced a project that directs users to local businesses and services that are well-reviewed on the site. Facebook can also store credit card information. And in recent months, Facebook made it possible to send peer-to-peer payments through Messenger.

The progression toward on-site payments highlighted the need to update the company’s content policy.

About the Author

Sydny Shepard is the Executive Editor of Campus Security & Life Safety.

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