Facebook to delete posts for illegal gun sales

Mar 5 2014, 4:22pm CST | by

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Under pressure from gun control advocates, Facebook agreed Wednesday to delete posts from users seeking to buy or sell weapons illegally or without a background check.

A similar policy will be applied to Instagram, the company's photo-sharing network, Facebook said. The measures will be put into effect over the next few weeks at the world's largest social network, with 1.3 billion active users.

"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.

The move reflects growing alarm that the Internet is being used to sell banned weapons, evade restrictions on interstate sales, and put guns in the hands of convicted felons, domestic abusers, the mentally ill or others barred under federal law from obtaining firearms. Gun control advocates say Facebook has become a significant marketplace, with thousands of firearms-related posts.

Google Plus and Craigslist already prohibit all gun sales, legal or illegal.

Facebook said that instead of patrolling its network for violators, it will rely on reports from users and police.

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. Moms Demand Action collected more than 230,000 signatures on petitions calling on Facebook to act.

"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.

Chris Cox, executive director of the National Rifle Association's legislative policy arm, portrayed the new policy as a victory for the NRA, saying Bloomberg and his allies tried — and failed — to shut down discussion of gun rights on Facebook.

"NRA members and our supporters will continue to have a platform to exercise their First Amendment rights in support of their Second Amendment freedoms," Cox said.

But Tom King, president of the NRA's New York affiliate, warned that the policy could be used to silence gun organizations on Facebook.

"This is something that could greatly get out of control very quickly," King said.

In crafting the new policy, Facebook had to confront a patchwork of gun laws around the country. New York, for example, has some of the nation's toughest gun laws. It prohibits the sale of weapons such the AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, and it is one of 16 states that require background checks on buyers making private firearm purchases.

Under the new policy, Facebook would allow a user to list an AR-15 as long as it wasn't offered for sale in states where the weapon is illegal.

Also, Facebook will remove any posts in which a gun seller offers to skip a background check, even if such checks aren't required in the seller's state. And it will delete offers to sell guns across state lines without the involvement of a licensed firearms dealer, something required under federal law.

"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 company already has systems in place to remove advertising that is false and deceptive, and it prohibits ads for illegal drugs, tobacco and prescription drugs.

Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, complained that Facebook didn't go far enough.

"They are talking about a community-based reporting system. Do what these other companies did and shut it down. Shut down the private sales of guns," he said.

There's no way to know how many guns are sold via Facebook, because the transactions are actually completed offline, said John Feinblatt, chairman of Mayors Against Illegal Guns. But such sales have occurred.

In Kentucky, for example, federal authorities in February charged an Ohio man with illegally selling a 9 mm pistol to a Kentucky teenager in a transaction arranged through Facebook.

Feinblatt said that there are "virtual gun shows" online. His group issued a report in December showing 66,000 active ads on a popular gun sales website called Armslist.

Source: AP Business

 
 

Don't miss ...

 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/31" rel="author">Associated Press</a>
The Associated Press (AP) is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering, supplying a steady stream of news to its members, international subscribers and commercial customers.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

Pakistan blocks three Saarc connectivity pacts; Modi, Sharif avoid meeting (Roundup)
Kathmandu, Nov 26 (IANS) Pakistan Wednesday played spoilsport by blocking three major Saarc connectivity projects initiated by India, even as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi conspicuously avoided meeting his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif while he met five other South Asian leaders here.
 
 
One-third of Libyans suffer mental health problems: Report
Tripoli, Nov 26 (IANS) Human rights violations in Libya have left nearly a third of the population suffering from mental health problems, according to a new report.
 
 
1.7 kg of drugs found in Iranian's stomach
Tehran, Nov 26 (IANS) Narcotics weighing 1.7 kg have been found in the stomach of a 20-year-old man in Iran's northeastern Khorasan Razavi province, police said.
 
 
Bangladesh pushes for working South Asian free trade deal
Kathmandu, Nov 26 (IANS) Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wednesday called for implementing the free trade agreement (FTA) that the Saarc nations signed nearly a decade ago.
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

The Black Friday 2014 Sales You can Shop Today 11/26
While most Black Friday 2014 ads state that Black Friday 2014 sales start on Thanksgiving Day, we are already seeing more than 20 Black Friday sales that are live online and even several that launched in stores. The...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Tori Spelling wants to display breast implants
Tori Spelling wants to get her breast implants removed and display them in a glass dome on her wall. The 41-year-old reality TV star is keen to have her fake boobs taken out because they have ''expired and recalled''...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Prince leaves social media
Prince has removed himself from social media. The 'Little Red Corvette' hitmaker has deleted his Instagram, Twitter and Facebook accounts and removed his work from YouTube and Soundcloud, just a year after joining the...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
Party-pooper Pharrell Williams
Pharrell Williams says asking him if he wants to go out partying is like asking a McDonalds worker ''if they want chicken nuggets for dinner''. Despite being a successful singer, the 41-year-old star insists he's not a...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
43 IS militants killed in clashes with Iraqi Kurds
Mosul (Iraq), Nov 26 (IANS/EFE) At least 43 members of the Islamic State (IS) Sunni radical group were killed in clashes with Peshmerga Kurdish troops near the strategic Mosul Dam near the northern Iraqi city by that...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Five soldiers killed in Yemen Al Qaeda attack
Sanaa, Nov 26 (IANS) Five soldiers were killed in a massive attack by suspected Al Qaeda miltants against a Yemeni military base in the southeastern province of Shabwa Wednesday, a police source said. The source told...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Pakistan blocks three Saarc connectivity pacts; Modi, Sharif avoid meeting (Roundup)
Kathmandu, Nov 26 (IANS) Pakistan Wednesday played spoilsport by blocking three major Saarc connectivity projects initiated by India, even as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi conspicuously avoided meeting his...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
IS pamphlets distributed in Pakistan
Islamabad, Nov 26 (IANS) Unidentified people have distributed pamphlets of the Islamic State (IS) Sunni radical group in Pakistan's South Waziristan tribal region, residents who have seen the pamphlets said Wednesday...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Three policemen shot dead in Egypt's Sinai
Cairo, Nov 26 (IANS) A police officer and two recruits were shot dead Wednesday by unidentified gunmen in Arish city in North Sinai province, a security source told Xinhua. "The militants set an ambush for a police...
Read more on Politics Balla
 
Ferguson burns as racial protests spread across US
Washington, Nov 26 (IANS) As night fell, Missouri state in midwestern United States deployed more security forces to quell violence in Ferguson after a grand jury failed to indict a white police officer in the August...
Read more on Politics Balla