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Facebook's Ban on Private Gun Sales Tested and Fails

BuzzFeed reporter uses the social network's platforms to purchase an AR-15 variant

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    Back in January, Facebook moved to ban private gun sales on its platforms, but its enforcement of the policy has been lax at best.

    A reporter from BuzzFeed News decided to test the social network's policy last week and was able to pick up an AR-15 variant, a weapon similar to the ones used in recent mass shootings in Connecticut, Colorado and San Bernardino, according to his report Wednesday.

    The reporter, Alex Kantrowitz, said he found the gun, negotiated a purchase price and agreed to buy the weapon, all through Facebook.

    Kantrowitz reported that he found the seller through Facebook Groups, where there are hundreds of buy/sell/trade groups, including several gun enthusiast groups. In one of the groups, the seller had posted a photo of the AR-15, with all the specs, and Kantrowitz messaged him directly, expressing his interest. The seller replied the next morning using Facebook Messenger.

    Kantrowitz clarified that, for the most part, people aren't selling guns illegally on Facebook - it's not a black market. They're just blatantly disregarding the social network's policy.

    Facebook released the following statement in response to the BuzzFeed report:

    "The purchase, sale or trade of firearms between private individuals is not allowed on Facebook. When we become aware of any content that violates our community standards, we remove it immediately. We have teams around the globe, speaking more than 40 languages, that work 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week to ensure continuous review of more than a million pieces of content reported each day for violating our standards."

    In January, Facebook said it would rely on its users to report any violations of the new rules and would remove any post that violated the policy, according to a New York Times report. Beyond that, the company said it could ban users or severely limit the ways they post on Facebook, depending on the type and severity of violations, the Times report said.