Facebook Seeking to Block Illegal Gun Sales

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Facebook wants to regulate gun sales on its social networks, and plans on blocking users under the age of 18 from viewing any sort of gun-related offers from individuals or groups.

“We have strict rules about how businesses can use our advertising tools,” read a note posted in Facebook’s online Newsroom. “For example, we do not permit advertising for illegal drugs, tobacco products, prescription pharmaceuticals, weapons, and several other products and services, and restrict advertising for products such as alcohol, adult products, and gaming.” The social network has automated systems in place that allow it to review advertising it classifies as deceptive or misleading in some way.

Most of the time, Facebook allows its users to hawk goods or solicit donations on Pages or Timeline postings; the new posting compares such activity to placing a physical note on a bulletin board at a supermarket. But it plans on regulating users who rely on this method to sell what it calls “regulated” items. To wit:

“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.”

Facebook will also prevent users from posting any sort of items “that indicate a willingness to evade or help others evade the law,” which means no offers to sell firearms across state lines or without a background check. Presumably, Facebook will have filters in place that allow it to scan for such content.

Facebook is a private network, of course, and not (despite its ubiquity) a public utility—meaning it can do whatever it wants with regard to Terms of Use. But that likely won’t stop some people from complaining about what they perceive as the company overstepping its boundaries.

 

Image: hjschneider/Shutterstock.com

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