Facebook, once a safe haven for gun profiteers and those who wanted to, for some undisclosed reason, anonymously obtain a semi-automatic weapon that can take a life with the push of a button, is clamping down. The social media site announced this week that it will no longer allow private gun sales on its site or on that of Instagram, which it owns.
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. If the company believed someone’s life was in danger, Facebook would work with law enforcement on the situation.
The news comes after reports of rampant unregulated sales of guns through the social media site, with no accountability for sellers to run adequate background checks on their buyers. In a statement to The New York Times, Monika Bickert, Facebook’s head of product policy, said that the site is “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.”
The new ban, however, does not apply to licensed gun sellers, who are still free to peddle their wares unbridled, though they must complete gun transactions off-site (it’s not clear yet how Facebook will ensure this happens). So you can still get a gun on Facebook, you just can’t do it as easily now.