Facebook and Instagram have announced that they will start deleting posts of users seeking to buy or sell weapons illegally or without a background check. The measure will be put into effect over the next few weeks on the world's largest social networking site and its photo sharing subsidiary.
Gun control advocates say that Facebook has become a major market, with thousands of posts related to firearms. The move reflects a growing alarm of the Internet becoming a popular platform for selling illegal weapons and evade restrictions on interstate sales. Social activists groups say that the ads put guns in the hands of felons, or others who are barred under federal law from obtaining firearms.
“We will not permit people to post offers to sell regulated items that indicate a willingness to evade or help others evade the law,” Monika Bickert, Head of Global Policy Management for Facebook said. “For example, private sellers of firearms in the US will not be permitted to specify ‘no background check required,’ nor can they offer to transact across state lines without a licensed firearms dealer," Bickert added.
"This is one of many areas where we face a difficult challenge balancing individuals' desire to express themselves on our services and recognizing that this speech may have consequences elsewhere," Facebook said.
The new policy has been worked in agreement with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who has been pressing the social networking site along with Moms Demand Action and Mayors Against Illegal Guns, backed by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
"Responsible social media sites know that it is in no one's interest for their sites to become the 21st-century black market in dangerous and illegal goods that place our families and communities at risk," Schneiderman said.