Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) announced a new policy prohibiting private, person-to-person gun sales through its social network platform and Instagram, its photo-sharing service.
The social network made its decision to ease concerns that unlicensed gun sellers and buyers are increasingly using its services to avoid the required background checks to purchase guns.
The series of mass shootings in the United States ignited debates regarding gun controls to keep communities safe. The White House noted that “more than 100,000 people have been killed as a result of gun violence—and millions more have been the victim of assaults, robberies, and other crimes involving a gun.
Americans including a vast majority of gun owners believe that the government must implement “sensible steps to address these horrible tragedies,” according to the White House.
President Barack Obama recently issued executive actions including strengthening background checks for buyers to reduce gun violence. The White House explained that the President’s executive actions ensure that anyone selling firearms from a store, at gun shows, or through the internet has license and performs background checks on their customers.
The President encouraged the social media companies such as Facebook to restrict gun sales on their platforms.
Facebook bans private gun sellers advertising no background checks
Facebook already banned private gun sellers from advertising “no background check required” or offering transactions across U.S. state lines without a licensed dealer. The social network emphasized that such advertisements show that the gun seller is willing to violate the law.
A spokesperson for the company clarified that licensed gun retailers can still advertise their products and conduct transactions outside of the social network’s service.
Facebook is updating its regulated goods policies
In a statement, Monika Bickert, head of product policy at Facebook, said, “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.”
Ms. Bickert added, “We are continuing to develop, test, and launch new products to make this experience even better for people and are updating our regulated goods policies to reflect this evolution.”
Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a group advocating for increased gun control praised Facebook for its action. She said, “Moms are grateful for the leadership shown by Facebook today. Our continued relationship with Facebook resulted in today’s even stronger stance, which will prevent dangerous people from getting guns and save American lives.”