Facebook announced Wednesday that it will begin deleting posts on its site that "explicitly indicate a specific attempt to evade or help others evade the law," in a move directed at illegal gun sales conducted without background checks. Predictably, pro-gun rights supporters aren't happy about what they consider to be censorship.
Facebook will also limit access to gun pages for minors, and ensure posts for firearms sales comply with the state and local laws of the user's location, meaning that Facebook users can only buy and sell guns that are legal in their respective states, and must follow the current regulations.
The social networking site has changed its policy after a campaign conducted by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and gun control advocacy group Moms Demand Action gathered more than 200,000 signatures urging Facebook to censor portions of its gun content, the Associated Press reports.
Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, will also see a shift in policy. Users searching for a hashtag like #GunsForSale will now see a content advisory warning before their search results.
The responses to Facebook's new policy are entirely predictable. On one side are groups like MDA that argue this censorship is all about protecting children. Moms Demand Action founder Shannon Watts said that guns-for-sale posts on Facebook aren't "just giving criminals access to guns, [they're] giving our children access to guns."
Those opposing Facebook's move cry infringement of not just their Second, but also their First Amendment rights, suggesting that blocking illegal gun sales is a slippery slope to erasing freedom of speech on the site.
On InfoWars.com, Kit Daniels wrote that this policy "will likely lead to the outright censorship of gun topics throughout the social media site." Other responses were more succinct in their disapproval:
Facebook probably won't censor all gun content on its site, of course. Rather, this seems to be about preventing the social media giant from becoming a "black market" for gun sales, as New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman described it.