Facebook Gun Posts Under Scrutiny, Removed By Social Media Site

Thursday, 06 Mar 2014 08:30 AM

By Michael Mullins

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Facebook gun posts are being restricted as the social media site cracks down on illegal gun sales.

On Wednesday, the social media juggernaut announced that it would be deleting posts aimed at purchasing or selling guns across state lines or without a background check, while also preventing anyone under the age of 18 from viewing photos of guns on their feeds.

"We will remove reported posts that explicitly indicate a specific attempt to evade or help others evade the law," the company said in a statement.

"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 added.

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The measure extends to the company's photo-sharing network Instagram, and will be implemented over the next few weeks, the Associated Press reported.

Before the rules changed, Facebook only prohibited paid ads and sponsored stories about weapons, but images were allowed as long as the weapon wasn't pointed directly at viewers, USA Today reported.

According to Facebook, it will not be policing the feeds of its estimated 1.3 billion users itself, but rather it will be relying on information provided by other users to enforce the new restriction.

The new policy was worked out in an agreement with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who has been pressing the company along with Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a group backed by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and Moms Demand Action, the AP noted.

"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 in response to the Facebook announcement.

More than 230,000 signatures were collected on online petitions by Moms Demand Action calling on Facebook to remove gun photos in the run-up to their announcement this week.

Gun enthusiasts countered with petitions of their own, arguing that the new Facebook policy is not fair.

"It's not ok to target only firearm enthusiasts for excessively-restrictive rules," wrote a California gun enthusiast who started the petition – Keep Facebook Free & Fair! As of Thursday morning the petition received just over 11,000 signatures.

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