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Facebook to police private sale of firearms

The company is implementing new restrictions around the sale of regulated items following pressure from gun-control advocates.

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The Facebook icon flag at the social network's Menlo Park, Calif., campus.

Facebook said Wednesday that it's implementing stricter rules on Facebook and Instagram around posts that discuss the sale or promotion of firearms and other regulated items.

"We will not permit people to post offers to sell regulated items that indicate a willingness to evade or help others evade the law," Monika Bickert, Facebook's head of global policy management, said in a statement. "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."

The 10-year-old social network said it re-evaluated its stance after listening to advice from New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and other organizations, including Sandy Hook Promise and Moms Demand Action.

The change in policy means Facebook will remove reported content and notify law enforcement when necessary; limit access to posts about the sale of a regulated item to people over 18; require Page owners who sell regulated items to include language around relevant laws; and provide in-app education to people who use Instagram to search for guns.

Facebook has previously taken a mostly hands-off stance on this type of controversial status update, in part because its networks don't technically allow people to complete transactions. In recent months, however, the company has faced criticism for doing little to curb the sale or promotion of illegal firearms on Facebook and Instagram.

"While we've recently heard specific concerns from people about offers for the private sale of firearms, this is one of many areas where we face a difficult challenge balancing individuals' desire to express themselves on our services, and recognizing that this speech may have consequences elsewhere," Bickert said.