Facebook has announced a change in its Community Standards that will ban negotiations of private sales of guns on its social network and Instagram (its photo-sharing service). Licensed gun dealers and gun clubs can still maintain Facebook pages and post on Instagram, but private groups are being shut down. So much for freedom of speech.
The updated language under Facebook’s Regulated Goods tab reads, “We prohibit any attempts by unauthorized dealers to purchase, sell, or trade prescription drugs, marijuana, or firearms. If you post an offer to purchase or sell alcohol, tobacco, or adult products, we expect you to comply with all applicable laws and carefully consider the audience for that content. We do not allow you to use Facebook’s payment tools to sell or purchase regulated goods on our platform.” Although Facebook was not directly involved in gun sales, it previously allowed gun sales to be negotiated. The new policy supposedly arose because the company is expanding e-commerce on the site, including allowing users of its Messenger service to send electronic payments to other individual users.
Facebook spokeswoman Monika Bickert, who oversees the company’s product policies, said in a statement,
“Over the last two years, more and more people have been using Facebook to discover products and to buy and sell things to one another. We are 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 company did not highlight the substantial legal safeguards built into delivery of firearms whose prices were negotiated online and then paid for. Facebook is based in Menlo Park, California.