Filling the Gap After Facebook's Gun Sale Ban

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In the wake of Facebook's ban on private gun sales via its social networking platform, U.S. gun traders are rushing to set up new site to arrange deals, according to this story from the New York Daily News.

Facebook recently said it would no longer allow the arrangement of private gun sales on its site, and the story says reaction was swift, with many gun trader groups immediately advertising alternative websites.

"I just lost Cheap Guns Minnesota, which had close to 18,000 members," said a user on the Firearms Enthisiasts Club website by the name of "The Guard Dog." "So PLEASE spread the word about this site to every group in EVERY state."

The story says the administrator of the Facebook group "Central Florida Gun Talk" changed its name to "Central Florida" on Monday, and direct the group's 2,055 members to another site outside Facebook set up quickly in response to the ban.

According to the Fox story, one Facebook user brought up an interesting point: The gun community had "grown dependent on Facebook" and the ban "will backfire" by forcing gun traders to unmonitored sites where users share less information about themselves.

Monika Bickert, Facebook's head of global policy management, said in an interview with Fox that gun group administrators were notified of the new policy ahead of its enforcement, the story says.

"We have to spend a lot of time thinking through new policies," she said. She noted that 80 percent of Facebook's 1.6 billion users reside outside the U.S. and Canada.

The ban was announced at the end of January. This story from USA Today says "President Obama and state attorneys general have increased pressure on Facebook to tighten restrictions on firearms because of the proliferations of posts that offer guns for sale, often without background checks," ignoring the fact that any guns sold over the Internet must be shipped to a federally licensed firearms dealer, which will perform a background check when transferring the gun to the buyer.

Users can’t actually buy anything on Facebook because it isn’t an e-commerce site, but it was often used to make arrangements to buy and ship firearms, with payments handled through a service such as PayPal.

Facebook will rely entirely on user reports when deciding which posts, groups, and accounts to delete or restrict. They get a million user reports every day, the Fox story says.

Licensed gun dealers are still allowed to advertise on Facebook, as long as it leads to sales made elsewhere.

USA Today says that in March 2014, Facebook took steps to limit sales of firearms, including blocking minors from seeing posts about gun sales and trades by requiring Facebook pages primarily used to promote the private sale of regulated goods and services to include language that reminds users to comply with laws and regulations.