Facebook Makes New Regulations For Gun Posts
Social media giant Facebook has agreed to tighten its rules pertaining to posts about guns, and create new regulations to make it harder for minors to see the posts, or reply to them.
There are many, many groups from around the world set up on Facebook will the sole purpose of buying and selling goods, even though the website is not an e-commerce platform. Private sellers of firearms, primarily in the US, sometimes use these groups to peddle their guns, and although there are not often problems, some users offer “no background check required”, which – whether the seller is aware or not – is illegal.
These posts about guns for sale are also visible to younger users, and without a background check, one of these young people could get their hands on a weapon, probably without knowing the risks. For these very reasons, a petition created by Moms Demand Action and set to Mark Zuckerburg and Kevin Styrom (Facebook and Instagram Chief Executives respectively), obtained more than 200,000 virtual signatures, which called for both of the sites to help put a stop to “this completely unregulated social media gun show”.
This is where Facebook’s new regulations about gun posts comes into play, also applying to Instagram. Access to the posts will be restricted to adults – Facebook users below the age limit will not be able to see them. Messages will also be sent to potential sellers reminding them to adhere to the relevant laws in their area.
On top of this, any posts that are put up on the site that specify that a background check of the buyer is not required for the sale, or that offer a transaction across state lines without using licensed firearms dealers, will be removed from the site. Basically, any posts that “indicate a willingness” to break gun laws will be deleted.
In a blog post, Facebook explained that sometimes users discussed regulated or controversial products and that some people had brought up concerns about the private sale of such items on the site. “It is one of the many areas where we face a difficult challenge balancing an individual’s desire to express themselves on our services,” the blog stated, “and recognising that this speech may have consequences elsewhere.”
Working in collaboration with various forces who raised such concerns, such as New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Facebook worked out the new regulations, which will come into effect over the next coming weeks. Schneiderman explained that no social network wants to become a “21st-century black market” for guns or any other dangerous or illegal products. “I congratulate Facebook and Instagram for taking these simple, common sense steps to protect the safety and security of their users,” he said, “and encourage other social media sites to follow their lead.”
The new regulations have been welcomed by Moms Demand Action, whose founder, Shannon Watts, said that they were glad they had been listened to because it means that people trying to buy or sell guns will become aware of the laws surrounding the trade. “Moms are particularly pleased that Facebook will block minors from seeing posts about gun sales or trades,” she added, “and that we can be confident that these social networks will be safe spaces for our kids.”