ALBANY, N.Y. — Under pressure from gun control advocates, Facebook agreed Wednesday to delete posts from users seeking to buy or sell weapons illegally or without a background check.
A similar policy will be applied to Instagram, the company’s photo-sharing network, Facebook said. The measures will be put into effect over the next few weeks at the world’s largest social network, with 1.3 billion active users.
“We will remove reported posts that explicitly indicate a specific attempt to evade or help others evade the law,” the company said in a statement.
The move reflects growing alarm that the Internet is being used to sell banned weapons or put guns in the hands of convicted felons, domestic abusers, the mentally ill or others barred under federal law from obtaining firearms. Gun control advocates say Facebook has become a significant marketplace, with thousands of gun-related posts.
Google Plus and Craigslist prohibit all gun sales, legal or illegal.
Facebook said that instead of patrolling its network for violators, it will rely on reports from users and police.
The new policy was worked out in an agreement with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who has been pressing the company along with Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a group backed by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and Moms Demand Action. Moms Demand Action collected more than 230,000 signatures on petitions calling on Facebook to act.
The new policy was crafted to deal with the patchwork of laws around the country. New York, for example, has some of the nation’s toughest gun laws. It prohibits the sale of weapons such the AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, and it is one of 16 states that require background checks on buyers making private firearm purchases.
Under the policy, Facebook would allow a user to list an AR-15 as long as it wasn’t offered for sale in states where the weapon is illegal.
It will remove posts in which a gun seller offers to skip a background check, even if such checks aren’t required in the seller’s state.