Facebook moves to ban private gun sales

Facebook will ban the private sale of guns on its social network as well as on Instagram, the company said Friday.

The move comes as the White House has increased pressure on the company to address the popular use of its platforms to promote and advertise firearms for sale, often as a way to evade background checks.

The ban only applies to private transactions and will not include licensed gun sellers.

Facebook, which has 1.59 billion monthly active users, already bans the sale of marijuana, pharmaceuticals and illegal drugs on its site and apps.

“Over the last two years, more and more people have been using Facebook to discover products and to buy and sell things to one another,” said Monika Bickert, Facebook’s head of product policy in a statement. “We are continuing to develop, test and launch new products to make this experience even better for people and are updating our regulated goods policies to reflect this evolution.”

The social network has been grappling with gun sales for years. In 2014, it agreed to shield advertisements for guns from minors after mounting pressure from gun control advocates.

In one case, an Ohio man was indicted on charges he illegally sold a 9-millimeter handgun across state lines to a 15-year-old from Kentucky whom he reportedly connected with on Facebook.

In another incident, a convicted felon in Iowa was apprehended after he allegedly bought guns illegally through a connection he made on Facebook with an undercover police officer running a sting operation.

Twitter: @dhpierson

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