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How Facebook Plans To Catch Gun Sellers

The social media giant plans to lean on its 1.6 billion users to report gun sales, the company says.

[Photo: Flickr user zaphad1]

Although Facebook says it has banned sales of firearms on the service, it is relying on its giant user base to monitor the social network for violations of its new policy.

On Friday, the company announced its new policy, which will ban the direct sales of guns on Facebook and Instagram.

Although Facebook has a large community standards team, it has no plans to use that team to enforce the new policy.

"Enforcement would work the same as everything else on Facebook," a company spokesperson told Fast Company today. "We rely on our community of 1.6 billion people to report anything they believe violates our community standards. We review all reports and take action if there is something that is in violation."

On Friday, Facebook head of product policy Monika Bickert said in a statement, "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. 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."

Despite the new policy, it will still be possible to advertise gun sales on Facebook. According to Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, the policy will only govern actual offers of firearms for sale on Facebook and Instagram.

"In this country, we know that 40% of gun sales are through unlicensed dealers, without background checks," Watts told Fast Company last week, adding that licensed dealers, such as Dick's Sporting Goods, would still be allowed to advertise guns on Facebook. She pointed out, however, that "licensed dealers don't sell on Facebook."

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