Facebook is taking aim at gun posts on the social network in a new campaign that the company and advocates hopes will limit the sales of firearms without a background check through sellers and buyers that meet up on Facebook.
This is not a move to ban pictures of guns on Facebook or to remove Facebook pages about guns and firearms. If you like to share photos of your guns or of guns you would like to buy or just find interesting the new Facebook Gun post rules should not impact your use of the social network.
A report earlier this week from Venturebeat indicated that Facebook would limit posting about guns on Facebook. This report led some to wonder if a ban on Facebook Pages about guns was on the way. At this point there is no limit to posting photos of guns and Facebook pages about guns. A Facebook search for guns still includes links to search for “guns for sale” and “guns for sale by owner” on the right side of search.
The Guns for Sale Facebook page with over 200,000 likes is still live and includes a link to the ATF guidelines for unlicensed sales.
This move comes after campaigning by several groups and an incident where a 15 year-old boy purchased a handgun from a seller he met on the social network last year.
The real target here are sellers that post offers to sell a gun on Facebook without a background check, specifically to someone in another state, to a minor or to a buyer who could not otherwise pass a background check. According to the ATF, “A person may sell a firearm to an unlicensed resident of his State, if he does not know or have reasonable cause to believe the person is prohibited from receiving or possessing firearms under Federal law.”
Facebook’s new rule will limit the visibility of posts selling, “a commonly regulated item” to users over the age of 18. Facebook will also send a message to the user posting the item outlining the laws and regulations about gun sales. On Instagram users searching for guns for sale will also see educational material about the laws.
When it comes to Facebook pages about guns and firearms, Facebook is limiting the age of users who can see the page and will require pages to include a disclaimer and or education. In the Facebook announcement the company shares more details,
“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.”
Specifically users cannot advertise sales as, “no background check required,” or offer to take guns across state lines. Facebook will rely on users to report the offending posts, though it would not be out of the question to see the company filtering for the “no background check required” text in posts.
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