Earlier this week, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America launched a campaign asking Facebook and Instagram to immediately enact a policy prohibiting all sales and trades of firearms on their platforms. These social media platforms provide an unregulated online marketplace where felons, domestic abusers, and other dangerous people can easily obtain firearms.
In response to Moms Demand Action’s announcement, a Facebook spokesperson told reporters that the company, which also owns Instagram, is unable to prevent private sales because its platforms are not used for e-commerce. Below is a statement from Moms Demand Action Founder Shannon Watts responding to Facebook’s claims that it is unable to prohibit gun sales:
“This argument is misleading and disingenuous. Craigslist, a social media platform used for buying and trading, already prohibits gun sales, and specifically calls out ‘firearms/guns and components’ in its list of ‘content prohibited on Craigslist.’
Thanks to the ‘private sale loophole’ in federal law, non-dealer sales initiated on the Internet are not subject to background checks in most states. However, even in states that require these background checks, people prohibited by law from owning a gun could buy one through Facebook or Instagram. The company cannot guarantee that transactions made on its own platforms are completed legally. In addition, Facebook allows users to advertise their posts about gun sales and trades in ‘groups’ and on their profiles, providing an easy avenue for dangerous people to obtain guns.
Facebook and Instagram already prohibit certain content in the interest of public safety, including hate speech and content that incites violence. American mothers – one of the largest demographics on Facebook – are calling on the company’s leaders to do the right thing and immediately enact a policy to prohibit all gun sales and trades on their platforms and help close its dangerous online loophole.”