In letter to Zuckerberg, senators call recent reports of Meta’s lax enforcement of gun sales ban ‘deeply disturbing’, say unenforced ban is not a ban at all.
Washington (June 24, 2022) – Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Bob Menendez (DN.J.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) today pressed Meta Mark’s Chairman and CEO Zuckerberg on Facebook Marketplace’s lax enforcement of its own gun sales ban on its e-commerce platform. According to details first reported by The Washington Post, users who violate the platform’s gun sales ban receive ten “strikes” before being removed from the platform, allowing for repeat violations that could still result in gun sales untraceable and dangerous.
“According to the Post’s report, despite previous assurances that Facebook would ban gun sales on its social media platforms, Facebook allows gun sellers and buyers to violate its policy. ten times before Facebook removed them from its platform,” senators write in letter to Mark Zuckerberg. “If this information is accurate, it is deeply troubling and calls into question Facebook’s commitment to ending online arms sales and its representations to us about its policies.
Senators have written to Facebook in the past about its facilitation of online arms sales. For example, in 2016, after Facebook announced a ban on private gun sales, when it was discovered that users were still engaging in these transactions; and in 2020, when a report documented Facebook’s inability to track down and remove gun sellers who simply moved to new private groups when Facebook shut them down.
“Now, as the United States faces an epidemic of unrelenting gun violence, Facebook is reportedly continuing to allow users to sell guns on its platform after repeated violations of its gun sales ban. fire between peers. An unenforced ban is not a ban at all and simply invites more supposedly forbidden behavior,” added the senators.
Senators have expressed deep concern that Facebook gun sales — or advertised sales posted online but negotiated and concluded offline — could circumvent or violate state and federal laws, resulting in many illegal sales handguns, assault weapons and other firearms.
“We urge you to take immediate action to meaningfully and effectively enforce your ban on the sale of firearms. Giving users multiple opportunities to sell guns that may end up in the wrong hands is a loophole that challenges Facebook’s representations and commitment to ending gun sales on its platform. Facebook needs to do better,” conclude the senators.
A copy of the letter is available HERE.
Senators are asking Meta for answers to questions such as:
- Does Facebook prohibit the sale of weapons on its service, and what documentation explains this policy?
- What was the strike threshold before 2020 and why was the 10 strike threshold reduced?
- What is the company’s policy on sharing information about its 10 strike system with the public?
- Why did the company revise its original five-step withdrawal policy and institute a 10-step policy?
- How many times has Facebook immediately deleted a post that directly or credibly threatened to kill a specific person and made a referral to law enforcement based on the threat?
- How many references has the company made to law enforcement in general?
- How did the Oversight Board push Facebook to give users more information about the number of warnings assessed against them and the consequences of violating the rules? How did Facebook react and why?
- What instructions or advice are given to Facebook’s content moderators regarding its policies of banning users who repeatedly seek to buy or sell weapons?