Facebook and Instagram will take down posts for gun sales that don't follow the law and block all children under 18 from viewing posts from gun sellers or traders.
The change in policy, announced today in a Facebook blog post, followed a month-long campaign by Moms Demand Action that showed how easy it was to obtain illegal firearms through Facebook. The group collected more than 230,000 signatures urging Facebook to do something about it.
"We will remove reported posts that explicitly indicate a specific attempt to evade or help others evade the law," the social net said in a statement. "For example, we will remove reported posts where the potential buyer or seller indicates they will not conduct a background check or are willing to sell across state lines without a licensed firearms dealer."
As part of the new policy, Facebook said it is trying to be mindful of First Amendment freedoms. Before removing a post, Facebook said it will send messages to a person about the post, reminding him or her to comply with relevant laws and regulations, and require pages that promote private sales to include language that reminds people of compliance with the law. Facebook will also limit access to such posts to those over 18.
Facebook, which also plans to run a public service ad campaign to encourage gun background checks, consulted a number of groups on developing its policy including New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Americans for Responsible Solutions, Sandy Hook Promise, Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Moms Demand Action.
"Responsible social media sites know that it is in no one's interest for their sites to become the 21st-century black market in dangerous and illegal goods that place our families and communities at risk," Schneiderman said in a statement.
The new policy will go into effect over the next few weeks.
Gun sellers already have a petition up opposing the policy move for singling out firearms over other activities.