Facebook's ban on private gun sales has faced steady criticism since it was first instituted in January, as reports of sales on the site continued. Last month, Democratic Massachusetts senator Edward Markey wrote to Facebook and Instagram with questions about how the ban was being enforced, and yesterday, his office released the company's response.
"We share your concern"
"We share your concern about any activity on our platform that violates our Community Standards, including peer-to-peer sales of firearms or explosives, and we are committed to removing this activity from Facebook and Instagram," Facebook vice president of US Policy Erin Egan writes.
Facebook did not directly address some of the senator's specific questions, such as what impact the ban has had. Despite the policy change, reports have found it's more than possible to purchase a gun through the site.
Markey, in his original letter, also wrote that a Wired story suggested guns for sale on Instagram were scrubbed after he publicly mentioned them. In response, Facebook said this was "consistent" with how the company handles complaints.
"We temporarily hide photos associated with potentially violating hashtags while our Community Operations team reviews them," Egan writes. "We remove reported photos if they violate any of our policies, including our prohibition on peer-to-peer firearm sales."
"We remove reported photos if they violate any of our policies, including our prohibition on peer-to-peer firearm sales."
"While I commend the platforms' facilitating the reporting of prohibited content related to gun sales by users, I urge Facebook and Instagram to redouble their efforts to develop and deploy technology that can enforce their gun-sales ban without relying so heavily on user reporting," Markey wrote in a statement. "Facebook and Instagram's ban on private firearms sales should have the teeth it needs to be effective, so that it can truly prevent guns from falling into the hands of those who should not have them."