Facebook To Ban Private Gun Sales On Its Service

Lindsay McCane

Facebook has announced their plans to update their policies to ban private gun sales on their social media service and on their photo-sharing service Instagram.

According to Reuters, reported via MSN,Facebook made the announcement on Friday, January 29, saying that they would be adding the private, person-to-person sales of guns to their list of prohibited content. The prohibited content list already includes illegal, prescription, or recreational drugs; tobacco products and related paraphernalia; unsafe supplements, as determined by Facebook in its sole discretion; Weapons, ammunition, or explosives; and adult products or services (except for ads for family planning and contraception).

"Over the last two years, more and more people have been using Facebook to discover products and to buy and sell things to one another," Monika Bickert, Facebook's head of product policy, said in a statement.

— Mother Jones (@MotherJones) January 30, 2016

NPR's Laura Sydell explained that the new restrictions have come after Facebook received pressure from the Obama administration and the current debate on gun control after a string of mass shootings that have taken place over the past several years.

"Facebook has never been directly involved in gun selling, but it has been a place where buyers and sellers have negotiated sales," Sydell explained.

Facebook has been debating on whether or not to allow the private sale of guns on their service for several years, and issued a statement in 2014 explaining their stance on the subject.

— Moms Demand Action (@MomsDemand) January 30, 2016

At the time, Facebook came up with a policy that would allow private gun sales as long as the seller and buyer were over the age of 18 years old and the seller didn't use the words "no background check required" to help the potential customer evade the laws.

"We will not permit people to post offers to sell regulated items that indicate a willingness to evade or help others evade the law," the statement continued. "For example, private sellers of firearms in the U.S. will not be permitted to specify 'no background check required,' nor can they offer to transact across state lines without a licensed firearms dealer."

You spoke, Facebook listened.

Facebook just BLOCKED unlicensed gun sales on its platforms! pic.twitter.com/JfKo2lHyKX

— Everytown (@Everytown) January 29, 2016

Facebook said they will be relying heavily on its network of users, which equals an approximate 1.6 billion monthly visitors, to report any violations to the new rules. The violators will then be banned from the service, or their posting privileges will be monitored. Although private gun sales will now be banned, licensed gun retailers will still be able to advertise their guns on Facebook as long as the transactions are made outside of Facebook's service.

[Photo by dolphfyn/Shutterstock]