Facebook's Weak Measures Against Selling Guns on Facebook

Wednesday, March 05, 2014 - 12:45 PM

(Steve Z/flickr)

PJ wrote an article a couple weeks ago about attempts to curb gun sales on Facebook. He was skeptical that such a ban would work. This week, after a lot of vocal protest and a petition that got 230,000 signatures, Facebook announced new measures to prevent Facebook gun sales. Judging by these new measures, it looks like PJ's skepticism was justified.

Here's what the company is implementing:

  • Any time we receive a report on Facebook about a post promoting the private sale of a commonly regulated item, we will send a message to that person reminding him or her to comply with relevant laws and regulations. We will also limit access to that post to people over the age of 18.
  • We will require Pages that are primarily used by people to promote the private sale of commonly regulated goods or services to include language that clearly reminds people of the importance of understanding and complying with relevant laws and regulations, and limit access to people over the age of 18 or older if required by applicable law.
  • We will provide special in-app education on Instagram for those who search for sales or promotions of firearms.

So essentially, Facebook will be doing a lot of "educating" and "reminding." As PJ mentioned in his original article, most of this behavior is legal, so Facebook can't really regulate it. If gun control advocates are truly interested in curtailing these kinds of sales, going after services that inadvertently facilitate it is a dead end, and is unlikely to satisfy either the gun sellers or the folks trying to stop them.

(h/t Fast Company)


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    Comments [2]


    The statement that "most of this behavior is legal, so Facebook can't really regulate it" is just plain inaccurate. Facebook is a private company - it can permit or not permit anything it wants on its service, including prohibiting entirely the sale of guns via Facebook (and cancelling or suspending the accounts of violators). Just like a bricks and mortar store can choose to carry them or not.

    Mar. 05 2014 03:14 PM
    Sean Kirkendall

    Actually, Facebook could just adopt the emerging industry standard of others like Groupon, eBay, Amazon, Craigslist, and Google+; instead of merely coming up to par with Armslist.com

    Mar. 05 2014 02:58 PM

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