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Facebook, Instagram delete illegal gun sale posts

Facebook announced Wednesday that it will remove all illegal gun sale posts after calls for increased oversight of gun sales and trades.
Guns are displayed for sale at a gun show near Wichita, Kansas.
Guns are displayed for sale at a gun show near Wichita, Kansas.

Facebook has disliked illegal gun transactions.

After intensifying calls from gun control advocates seeking stricter regulation and oversight on firearm sales on the social media platform, Facebook announced Wednesday significant policy changes on illegal gun sales. Over a million users will no longer be able to sell or trade firearms without background checks on Facebook and Instagram. More importantly, minors may no longer view posts related to gun sales. The platform will also require all gun groups to highlight gun laws on their Facebook pages. 

"We will remove reported posts that explicitly indicate a specific attempt to evade or help others evade the law," Facebook said in a statement. 

According to the new policy, Facebook and Instagram will expect users to self-police illegal gun transactions. The platforms will send a direct message to a user reminding the individual to comply with laws governing sales of firearms if a report is made about the illegal post or sale. 

The two social media platforms have become hotbeds for illegal gun trafficking, which has spurred gun control groups Moms Demand Action and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's group Mayors Against Illegal Guns to start a petition that enlisted the support of over 230,000 supporters.

"We are happy that these companies listened to American mothers and we believe these changes are a major step toward making sure people who buy or sell guns on their platforms know the law, and follow it," Shannon Watts, the founder of Moms Demand Action, said in a statement. "Moms are particularly pleased that Facebook will block minors from seeing posts about gun sales or trades, and that we can be confident that these social networks will be safe spaces for our kids."

Facebook joins other major technology companies like Google, Craigslist and Amazon that forbid online gun sales without background checks. But Reddit remains to be one existing social website that lists thousands of firearm sales, magazine clips and other weapons. 

Approximately 25,000 guns are illegally sold online to buyers with criminal history, according to Mayors Against Illegal Guns. 

Connecticut's senators on Wednesday praised Facebook's decision to outlaw unregulated gun sales through their site.

"We're glad that Facebook and Instagram have taken a stand against gun violence," Sens. Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal wrote in a statement. "Their commitment to delete posts that offer gun sales without a background check and prevent underage users from accessing private gun sales demonstrates a strong sense of responsibility and other companies should follow suit. The fight against gun violence isn't something any one person or organization can take on alone."