The rally for the War on guns has made international headlines once again as Facebook has announced a new strategy surrounding the online sale of weapons. Effective last week Facebook has enacted a new policy to ban and remove any posts advertising the sale of guns from private sellers. with an estimated 1.6 billion users visiting the site every single month Facebook has become the most popular social media source in the world and wants to do whatever they can to responsibly prevent potential gun violence from spreading.
Last month AnonHQ released an article “An Honest Discussion Over Gun Ownership In America” which outlined the fact that current laws in countries such as the U.S. do not effectively regulate the private sales of guns between citizens. Essentially citizens are virtually free to buy, sell and trade guns with one another and mainly use the internet to exploit these loose laws. Services such as Craigslist and Facebook have been some of the most visible and popular venues hosting these types of exchanges for years now.
It is important to note the ban applies only to private, person-to-person sales of guns and that licensed gun dealers and gun clubs can still maintain Facebook pages. This is not the first time Facebook has attempted to crack down on gun sales, in 2014 Facebook announced that it would filter gun related images from minors. A move that resulted in limited success. Similarly a few years back Craigslist initiated a policy prohibiting the online sale of guns and ammunition from their web site promoting the fact that 68% of online gun sellers do not ask for background checks.
On Facebook’s new policy, critics and cynics of the new policy are quick to point out the fact there are many ways around the new ban. Using key words, slang words, private messages and closed groups people can still navigate around the newest ban. People also point out the fact that ISIS is banned from Facebook, yet this does not seem to stop ISIS members from creating accounts even if temporarily. In many ways this is the “politically correct” move for Facebook to make but in the end may not accomplish all that much preventing the exchange of guns through their service.
New York State attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman has been openly critical of Facebook and other online venues hosting the exchange of weapons for years now. Last Friday he proclaimed “Today’s announcement is another positive step toward our shared goal of stopping illegal online gun sales once and for all.”
Acknowledging the political nature of this move and the broader anti-gun movement sweeping over the country in recent times, Monkia Kickert, Facebook’s head of product policy said about her companies new policy to ban guns sales: “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, 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.”
— Moms Demand Action (@MomsDemand) January 30, 2016