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.
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).
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.
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.)
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.
“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.