According to an in-depth investigation by Forbes reporters, private gun sales are thriving on Facebook despite the site’s recent ban on such transactions.
Facebook announced in January that it was banning private gun sales on its pages (and also on the Facebook-owned Instagram platform). However, a Forbes reporter gained access to gun pages and discovered many loopholes that sellers are using to get around the rule. Now, instead of explicitly listing guns for sale, many sellers simply post a photo of a gun in firearms groups and accept private messages with offers. Forbes points out that Facebook also relies on its own members to flag content, and if these guns are being sold in pro-firearms groups, the posts are highly unlikely to get reported.
Still, Facebook has removed many such pages since the rule took effect. However, new groups often spring up their place—and these pages are often run by the same people that managed the old ones.
“It’s not going to be a perfect system. It is the Internet. But ultimately, Facebook has to figure out what’s the right process to keep guns off their platform,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “It’s a national problem and it requires Congressional action. In the meantime, we have to do the best we can to save lives. We are grateful Facebook has taken a stand.”
It’s an uphill battle, but there’s no doubt Facebook needs to somehow improve its efforts to track gun sales.