Democrats hit Facebook over gun sales on platform

Democrats hit Facebook over gun sales on platform
© Stefani Reynolds

A group of Democratic senators sent a letter Thursday pressing Facebook over private gun sales on the platform.

"[D]espite Facebook’s ban of gun sales on its platforms, users are nonetheless able to facilitate firearm transactions in private Facebook groups specifically designed to skirt Facebook’s ban on firearm sales,” the 13 senators wrote in the letter to Facebook CEO Mark ZuckerbergMark Elliot ZuckerbergHillicon Valley: FBI, DHS warn that foreign hackers will likely spread disinformation around election results | Social media platforms put muscle into National Voter Registration Day | Trump to meet with Republican state officials on tech liability shield Facebook to 'restrict the circulation of content' if chaos results from election: report 2.5 million US users register to vote using Facebook, Instagram, Messenger MORE.

Facebook first banned the sale of firearms on the platform in 2016, then in 2018 it added proactive measures to identify sellers after pressure from lawmakers.

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"We have concerns that those measures fall short," the lawmakers lead by Sens. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezKasie Hunt to host lead-in show for MSNBC's 'Morning Joe' Senators ask for removal of tariffs on EU food, wine, spirits: report VOA visa decision could hobble Venezuela coverage MORE (D-N.J.) and Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyDemocrats shoot down talk of expanding Supreme Court Schumer: 'Nothing is off the table' if GOP moves forward with Ginsburg replacement Democrats see fundraising spike following Ginsburg death MORE (D-Mass.) wrote in the letter to Facebook.

The senators are demanding answers to a series of questions — including how many private groups Facebook has banned for violating the firearm sale policy and how the company coordinates with law enforcement — by March 12.

The letter cites a report from Protocol, a tech news website, that found several groups where users were swapping weapons or arranging their sale.

Users in those groups explicitly said that weapons posted were not for sale, but then would negotiate deals using Messenger.

Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the letter.