Facebook has shut down at least five gun sweepstakes pages that used the social network to give away guns. The pages, which sometimes gave away AR-15 rifles alongside smaller weapons, were operated by gun shops and weapon industry news sites. Operators of the five offending sites were giving away free guns in exchange for “liking” their Facebook page–a violation of internal Facebook advertising restrictions.
The gun-giveaways-on-Facebook story was first reported by Vocativ, a New York City-based news startup. According to Vocativ’s Scott Cohen, the story developed from web forum postings by users who primarily used Facebook for gun giveaways.
Facebook’s advertising rules remain changing and opaque; many page operators appear to be unaware they were violating Facebook policy. Promotions that do not involve weapons, tobacco, prescription drugs, and gasoline are still allowed on the social network however. Non-weapon sweepstakes have been used to great success by major brands on Facebook and remain an integral part of many online marketing efforts.
Gun giveaways, however, are still widespread on the home pages of many online weapon dealers.