Facebook Has a Gun Problem

Facebook’s 2019 has not been the best for good press. And now news is coming to light that it’s being used to sell guns. To Market Facebook expressly bans the sale of guns between individuals through Marketplace, the company’s answer to eBay or Craigslist, or anywhere else on the service, though licensed sellers are allowed to conduct their business. As reported by The Wall Street Journal, gun sellers will instead offer gun cases at extreme mark-ups, such as offering a case for $950 that has a retail value of $30. This mark-up has become code for gun enthusiasts, who will contact the sellers via private messages to hash out the particulars of the deal. Facebook has said that is uses “both humans and machine learning” to screen for guns and remove offending content, but it’s clear this is a difficult problem to control. Person To Person This workaround violates Facebook’s protocols, while standing in a legally gray area. Federal law doesn’t require background checks for the private sale of firearms, though many states do. Firearms sales across state borders are, in theory, supposed to be funneled through licensed gun dealers who conduct background checks, though this often doesn’t happen. People hoping to avoid background checks have long used the web to obtain guns, but it’s an entirely different matter when the leading social network is being used in such a matter. NRNAY Facebook had already been having a rough summer in the public eye, as shareholders are increasingly calling for CEO Mark Zuckerberg to be reigned in, and an antitrust investigation from the Federal Trade Commission looms. So this wasn’t the greatest time for the company to get caught in one of the most pressing debates of our time, as Democratic lawmakers are calling for tighter background checks and the banning of automatic weapons. This doesn’t seem too likely at the moment, as President Donald Trump has again abandoned promises to pass gun reform following pressure from the National Rifle Association. As progress on gun control continues to stall, many employees are pressuring their companies to do what they can, such as Walmart employees leaning on the company to take stronger action. Walmart, however, has continued to sell guns. -Michael Tedder Photo by Brian Woolston