I Bought An AR-15 Using Facebook
No guns on Facebook? We’ll see.
At the very beginning of 2016, Facebook banned gun sales on its site. But it’s not that hard to get around these rules.
With all the school shootings and mass murders, placenames now becoming shorthand for different shootings (Aurora, Sandy Hook, Charleston, etc.) one can hardly blame Facebook for getting cautious. Like any responsible company, they want their asses and assets covered. Still, that didn’t stop one Buzzfeed writer from buying an AR-15 (That oh-so-dangerous “Assault Rifle” everyone’s so afraid of) via facebook not far from San Bernardino.
See, while Facebook officially bans guns from their site, that doesn’t stop Facebook groups from being made, anyway. Algorithms can’t stop or solve everything.
Find the gun Sunday, send inquiry private message on Monday, sign the paperwork Tuesday, and ten days later (per California law), an AR-15.
As it was at the beginning of 2016, the gun restrictions were basically useless due to their algorithms. Sometimes guns were listed under codenames, or the groups were closed in hopes of hiding from algorithms. They aren’t illegal gun sales, they’re all by-the-book, just outside of Facebooks rules, forcing these things to possibly look a little shadier than expected.
Still, Facebook has our names, our pictures, more or less our entire identities– If someone’s planning something shady, Facebook probably has our red flags, too. In fact, some people reveal things on Facebook they would never reveal online. Maybe more gun sales need to happen on Facebook. It’s not foolproof, of course, but clearly nothing is. Many guns are bought legally before being used for great violence, and many guns are bought illegally for the same purpose. No change in facebook policy will eradicate bad people getting good guns.
One amusing detail from the Buzzfeed Video:
“The store clerk handed me the AR-15. It was exactly as advertised on Facebook. I pointed the gun at a stuffed moose head mounted on the wall and pulled the trigger. Snap.”
I can’t help but wonder if the store clerk immediately regretted his decision to hand over a gun to someone who points it at his wall decorations and pulls the trigger first-thing.
Someone who reported a great number of gun groups to facebook said that if he wanted to buy a gun illegally, it would take two minutes– but they never address the fact that the gun sale in this article was (according to the writer) completely legal. Were they talking about purchasing through facebook from these gun owners, or in general? Was this fear mongering or concern over something else entirely?
It’s a curious video, and the original comments are full of knowledgeable people pointing out holes where they mention bits and pieces of California law being left by the wayside, presumably for editorial reasons. The report seems balanced, but not incredibly knowledgeable.
What has your experience with the facebook anti-gun stance been? Have their algorithms gotten better, have they been better enforced, or just outright the extreme? (any mention of firearms in their ads, you are denied) Are they still miserable? Is this writer full of nonsense? Leave your comments to let us know.
Here’s the reaction to this feed on Facebook:
Story by Sam Morstan
Sources: Alex Kantrowitz, Buzzfeed News Reporter, Buzzfeed News Facebook, original story here