Late Friday, Facebook announced it was banning the sale of firearms on the social media platform. Though many may not be familiar, Facebook had become a popular site to buy, sell, and trade firearms. Facebook simply operated like a digital classifieds section. Many groups exist to sell and trade items you’d find at garage sales and flea markets, just with the addition of firearms specific groups. Gun trading on Facebook is just like any other online sales, federal, state, and local laws still apply.
Facebook has every right in the world to allow or disallow those using its platform. They are under no obligation to allow users to buy or sell anything, but this policy change sets a concerning precedent.
If the social media giant caves on this issue to the pressure of anti-gun lobbying groups, what’s to stop them from doing more in the future?
Mark Zuckerberg’s social network has enormous power over what you and the rest of the world sees in their newsfeeds. They can utilize this tool to promote or shut out any conversations or stories they would like. This is no crazy conspiracy theory, rather it’s a matter of their public policy. On January 19th Facebook announced a new campaign to weed out anything they deem as hate speech in Europe.
Anti-gun politicians, activists, and newspapers have gone so far as to call the NRA a terrorist organization, so is it any stretch for them to claim anything pro-gun as hate speech? What happens if the organizations that forced this ban decide Facebook and Instagram should be a “safe space” free from firearms? Such groups have already told their activists to falsify emergency calls to harass and endanger gun owners.
Could Facebook collapse in the face of more Bloomberg-backed lobbying?
The consequence of a total ban on firearms and related discussion by Facebook would seriously hamper free speech and unnecessarily harass gun owners. Again, Mark Zuckerberg and his company have every right to do whatever they want with Facebook: it’s his party and he can ban peaceful speech and commerce if he wants to.
But you can also let him know you disagree with these bans and restrictions. That’s what the Facebook Feedback page is for.
The future of Facebook and firearms is uncertain, and this is a huge step in the wrong direction.