The Slatest

Facebook Ban on Gun Sales Gets Off to a Slow Start

A Facebook user advertises an AR-15 for sale.


Facebook is trying to make it more difficult for private sales of guns to take place on its site and Instagram. So far, the effort appears to be struggling to get off the ground. Facebook said on Friday that all private, person-to-person gun sales on the sites are now forbidden, although official gun dealers and clubs can still have pages. The social networking site, which has already banned drug sales, has increasingly come under pressure to put a stop to weapon sales as it quickly grew into one of the biggest marketplaces for people to buy guns without background checks.

“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,” Monika Bickert, Facebook’s head of product policy, said in a statement. “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.”

Several groups, including Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, celebrated the ban as “an important step to keep guns out of dangerous hands.”

“We’re gratified that our continuous conversation with Facebook over the course of the last two years has culminated in the company prohibiting all unlicensed gun sales arranged on its platforms,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “Our undercover investigations have shown that criminals are active in the online market for guns.”


The efforts, however, appear to be mostly centered on users reporting content. The New York Times explains:

Facebook said it would rely on its vast network of users to report any violations of the new rules, and would remove any post that violated the policy. Beyond that, the company said it could ban users or severely limit the ways they post on Facebook, depending on the type and severity of past violations.

So far, there’s lots of talk about impending closure of groups that help gun sellers and buyers meet but a cursory search revealed sales and trades continue as openly as ever.