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Facebook just announced a big policy shift when it comes to gun sales.

The tech giant banned private gun sales on its website and on Instagram.

Facebook just announced a big policy shift when it comes to gun sales.

If you're in the market to buy a gun, don't count on the largest social network on Earth to help you get it.

On Jan. 29, 2016, Facebook banned private gun sales on its website as well as on photo app Instagram (which it owns).


Photo by Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images.

That means the network's more than 1.5 billion monthly active users — and Instagram's more than 400 million — will no longer be able to utilize the platforms to privately buy or sell firearms.

For those who feel strongly that guns shouldn't be able to be bought and sold as carelessly as, say, a couch on Craigslist, this change is welcome news.

Monika Bickert, Facebook's head of product policy, told outlets that the network has increasingly become a go-to resource for digital commerce, and the policy switch is a natural next step:

"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."

So, what does this mean for your news feed?

You should no longer be seeing friends post a status or photo about a firearm they're selling (if that was something you ever saw to begin with). And, if you're that friend, you've got to find a different way to sell your gun.

Why? This type of peer-to-peer exchange can be done without background checks, and Facebook is done playing the role of enabler, The Guardian points out. It's essentially the same ban the social network has in place for selling marijuana and prescription drugs.

Photo by Joe Klamar/AFP/Getty Images.

How will the ban be implemented? If users spot another user posting about a gun they wish to sell, the violator can be reported. From there, Facebook can ban or severely limit the seller's access to post content.

The change, however, does not affect licensed gun retailers using Facebook as an advertising platform. So you may still spot a gun ad while scrolling, and that's just fine.

Facebook's announcement is another step forward in keeping people who are a threat to others from accessing guns.

Following the mass shooting in San Bernardino, California (and yet another outcry for more gun regulations), President Obama announced executive orders to expand background checks, invest in gun safety technology, and increase access to mental health care, among other actions, in January 2016. (Those initiatives, by the way, are broadly supported by Americans.)

President Obama shed a few tears while talking about the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting of 2012 and announcing new executive actions on guns. Photo by Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images.

Facebook's policy change certainly won't stop all online gun sales without background checks — but it will help.

As gun control advocacy group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America pointed out, many other online platforms act as forums for gun sellers to operate under the radar. The group, however — which claimed its calls for action had already prompted Facebook to do more to curb gun violence — praised the social network's latest announcement.

A protester at 2013 gun control rally in New York City, in which Moms Demand Action participated. Photo by Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images.

“Two years ago, our campaign to get Facebook to change how their platforms host firearm sales resulted in nine new policies to curb children’s exposure to guns and to clarify state laws around selling and buying guns online," Shannon Watts, founder of the group, said in a statement. "Our continued relationship with Facebook resulted in today’s even stronger stance, which will prevent dangerous people from getting guns and save American lives.”

The policy upgrade by Facebook — one of the world's largest forums to buy and sell guns — marks another tally in the win column for groups like Moms Demand Action.

It's great to see a company with as much influence as Facebook stepping up to help stop gun violence.

Obama's executive orders were also great. But when Congress is gridlocked when it comes to taking any common sense action on guns — even while 80% of Americans are in favor of stricter gun laws (the NRA, by the way, might have something to do with that discrepancy) — it's definitely deserving of a Like to see private businesses step up to the plate.

Photo by Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images.

Courtesy of Amita Swadhin
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In 2016, Amita Swadhin, a child of two immigrant parents from India, founded Mirror Memoirs to help combat rape culture. The national storytelling and organizing project is dedicated to sharing the stories of LGBTQIA+ Black, indigenous people, and people of color who survived child sexual abuse.

"Whether or not you are a survivor, 100% of us are raised in rape culture. It's the water that we're swimming in. But just as fish don't know they are in water, because it's just the world around them that they've always been in, people (and especially those who aren't survivors) may need some help actually seeing it," they add.

"Mirror Memoirs attempts to be the dye that helps everyone understand the reality of rape culture."

Amita built the idea for Mirror Memoirs from a theater project called "Undesirable Elements: Secret Survivors" that featured their story and those of four other survivors in New York City, as well as a documentary film and educational toolkit based on the project.

"Secret Survivors had a cast that was gender, race, and age-diverse in many ways, but we had neglected to include transgender women," Amita explains. "Our goal was to help all people who want to co-create a world without child sexual abuse understand that the systems historically meant to help survivors find 'healing' and 'justice' — namely the child welfare system, policing, and prisons — are actually systems that facilitate the rape of children in oppressed communities," Amita continues. "We all have to explore tools of healing and accountability outside of these systems if we truly want to end all forms of sexual violence and rape culture."

Amita also wants Mirror Memoirs to be a place of healing for survivors that have historically been ignored or underserved by anti-violence organizations due to transphobia, homophobia, racism, xenophobia, and white supremacy.

Amita Swadhin

"Hearing survivors' stories is absolutely healing for other survivors, since child sexual abuse is a global pandemic that few people know how to talk about, let alone treat and prevent."

"Since sexual violence is an isolating event, girded by shame and stigma, understanding that you're not alone and connecting with other survivors is alchemy, transmuting isolation into intimacy and connection."

This is something that Amita knows and understands well as a survivor herself.

"My childhood included a lot of violence from my father, including rape and other forms of domestic violence," says Amita. "Mandated reporting was imposed on me when I was 13 and it was largely unhelpful since the prosecutors threatened to incarcerate my mother for 'being complicit' in the violence I experienced, even though she was also abused by my father for years."

What helped them during this time was having the support of others.

"I'm grateful to have had a loving younger sister and a few really close friends, some of whom were also surviving child sexual abuse, though we didn't know how to talk about it at the time," Amita says.

"I'm also a queer, non-binary femme person living with complex post-traumatic stress disorder, and those identities have shaped a lot of my life experiences," they continue. "I'm really lucky to have an incredible partner and network of friends and family who love me."

"These realizations put me on the path of my life's work to end this violence quite early in life," they said.

Amita wants Mirror Memoirs to help build awareness of just how pervasive rape culture is. "One in four girls and one in six boys will be raped or sexually assaulted by the age of 18," Amita explains, "and the rates are even higher for vulnerable populations, such as gender non-conforming, disabled, deaf, unhoused, and institutionalized children." By sharing their stories, they're hoping to create change.

"Listening to stories is also a powerful way to build empathy, due to the mirror neurons in people's brains. This is, in part, why the project is called Mirror Memoirs."

So far, Mirror Memoirs has created an audio archive of BIPOC LGBTQI+ child sexual abuse survivors sharing their stories of survival and resilience that includes stories from 60 survivors across 50 states. This year, they plan to record another 15 stories, specifically of transgender and nonbinary people who survived child sexual abuse in a sport-related setting, with their partner organization, Athlete Ally.

"This endeavor is in response to the more than 100 bills that have been proposed across at least 36 states in 2021 seeking to limit the rights of transgender and non-binary children to play sports and to receive gender-affirming medical care with the support of their parents and doctors," Amita says.

In 2017, Mirror Memoirs held its first gathering, which was attended by 31 people. Today, the organization is a fiscally sponsored, national nonprofit with two staff members, a board of 10 people, a leadership council of seven people, and 500 members nationally.

When the pandemic hit in 2020, they created a mutual aid fund for the LGBTQIA+ community of color and were able to raise a quarter-million dollars. They received 2,509 applications for assistance, and in the end, they decided to split the money evenly between each applicant.

While they're still using storytelling as the building block of their work, they're also engaging in policy and advocacy work, leadership development, and hosting monthly member meetings online.

For their work, Amita is one of Tory's Burch's Empowered Women. Their donation will go to Mirror Memoirs to help fund production costs for their new theater project, "Transmutation: A Ceremony," featuring four Black transgender, intersex, and non-binary women and femmes who live in California.

"I'm grateful to every single child sexual survivor who has ever disclosed their truth to me," Amita says. "I know another world is possible, and I know survivors will build it, together with all the people who love us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

Images via YouTube and Takahiro Kyono

Adam Barrett covers 'God Only Knows' co-written by Brian Wilson

Adam Barrett has been steadily building a fan base on YouTube with his acoustic guitar covers of iconic songs from musicians and bands like The Beatles, The Cure and Oasis.

Last year, Barrett uploaded a cover of The Beach Boys song "God Only Knows," from their iconic Pet Sounds album. It's a song so good that Paul McCartney once called it the "greatest song ever written" and has repeatedly praised it over the years, including in 2007 when he performed the song live with Wilson.

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."