The tragic shootings in Las Vegas Sunday — which claimed the lives of two police officers, one civilian, and alleged shooters husband and wife Jerad Miller and Amanda Miller — also brought more pressure on Facebook from Daniel Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, who pointed out that a May 8 Facebook post (pictured above) in which Jerad Miller announced that he was seeking a rifle had not been removed (it has since disappeared).
Gross issued the following statement:
In March, we said Facebook’s new gun policy didn’t go far enough, and we are sickened to learn that the Las Vegas shooter attempted to obtain a rifle through Facebook. The post has remained live on Facebook for one month, demonstrating the inadequacy of Facebook’s gun policy. As we said then, Facebook continues to make it too easy for dangerous people to find guns, and it should prohibit gun sales outright. Gun sales have no place on a social network that makes it simple to evade background checks. We warned that it was a matter of time before something like this would happen. We demand that Facebook learn from this terrible tragedy — one that it may have helped to enable — before more lives are lost because of its ridiculously weak policies, which could easily be fixed.
Facebook and Instagram announced educational and enforcement measures regarding discussions on the social networks about commercial activity in March, particularly when they involved regulated items, such as guns, with Facebook Head of Global Policy Management Monika Bickert saying in a Newsroom post:
Any time we receive a report on Facebook about a post promoting the private sale of a commonly regulated item, we will send a message to that person reminding him or her to comply with relevant laws and regulations. We will also limit access to that post to people over the age of 18.
We will require pages that are primarily used by people to promote the private sale of commonly regulated goods or services to include language that clearly reminds people of the importance of understanding and complying with relevant laws and regulations, and limit access to people over the age of 18 or older if required by applicable law.
We will provide special in-application education on Instagram for those who search for sales or promotions of firearms.
We will not permit people to post offers to sell regulated items that indicate a willingness to evade or help others evade the law. For example, private sellers of firearms in the U.S. will not be permitted to specify “no background check required,” nor can they offer to transact across state lines without a licensed firearms dealer. We have worked with a number of individuals and organizations on the development of these efforts, which will be implemented and enforced in the coming weeks. We are grateful in particular for the advice offered by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Americans for Responsible Solutions, Sandy Hook Promise, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, and Moms Demand Action, which helped us develop an approach for the private sale of firearms. We also appreciate the feedback provided by the Facebook Safety Advisory Board.
As always, we encourage people who see anything that violates our policies to report it to us using the tools found throughout our services. Facebook and Instagram will continue to remove content, and notify law enforcement where appropriate, when we are notified about things shared on our services that suggest a direct, credible risk to others’ safety. We will also continue to strictly enforce our advertising policies.
Gross responded at the time in an email to AllFacebook:
This new policy is not a victory because Facebook continues to makes it too easy for dangerous people to evade a background check when buying guns. A mere warning to follow the law and community-based reporting will not do enough to prevent unchecked gun sales to dangerous people. As we and thousands of others have told Facebook, unlicensed gun sales have no place on the social network. Facebook should prohibit all posts that advertise the unlicensed sale or transfer of firearms in the U.S. Sadly, it’s only a matter of time before a gun purchased through Facebook without a background check is used in a terrible tragedy.
Readers: Should Facebook be doing more to prevent guns from changing hands via the social network?