Facebook announced today that it will crack down on posts promoting the sale of illegal guns, as well as those firearm-themed posts that target minors. The official announcement came in a somewhat convoluted post to the company's blog, but here's the Los Angeles Times with the translation of the topline takeaways:
Facebook said it would limit access to posts about gun sales and trades to people 18 and older. And it said it would require Facebook pages primarily used to promote the private sale of regulated goods and services to include language that reminds them to comply with laws and regulations and limit access to people 18 and older in the case of goods such as alcohol.
Any time Facebook receives a report about a post promoting the private sale of regulated goods such as guns, it will send a message to that user reminding him or her to comply with laws and regulations, Facebook said. Anyone searching on Instagram for sales of firearms will be shown similar reminders.
The company also said it would no longer allower users to post offers to sell unregulated goods "that indicate a willingness to evade or help others evade the law," nor will they permit offers to sell guns across state lines without first going through a licensed firearms dealer.
Facebook's previous policy of allowing users to promote personal gun sales with little oversight drew the ire of multiple pro-gun control groups like Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, which began pressuring the social giant to tighten its rules.
The announcement also follows an investigation last week by VentureBeat, which arranged to buy a gun illegally on Facebook in about 15 minutes, and similar question-raising report from the Wall Street Journal, which found assault-weapons parts and concealed-carry weapon holsters had been advertised to teens on the 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 its blog post. The early reaction from the pro-gun control groups was that the policy changes were "meaningful." "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," Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, told the Times.