Facebook and Instagram in Gun Sale Post Clampdown -- But Will FB Friends Really Become Grasses?

By Gerald Lynch on at

Facebook and Instagram announced on Wednesday that they would tighten policies to make it more difficult to buy and trade illegal guns on their websites. Because sharing cat memes on social networks obviously just won't cut it these days.

It's about time, too. The social network has come under increasing fire from campaigners after it was revealed that large numbers of underworld transactions are carried out through its pages. Going forward, Facebook will pull posts advertising illegal drugs, tobacco sales and unlicensed prescription drugs, alongside weapons. All changes will carry over to Instagram too, the photo sharing site that's fallen under the Facebook umbrella since April 2012.

"We will remove reported posts that explicitly indicate a specific attempt to evade or help others evade the law," said Facebook in a statement.

"We work hard to find a balance between enabling people to express themselves about topics that are important to them, and creating an environment that is safe and respectful," added Facebook's Monika Bickert, Facebook's head of global policy management.

However, Facebook will rely on reports from users and the police before Facebook itself will step in and punish an offending poster. While the police may be able to highlight a few specific targets, I find it hard to believe that the Facebook friends of the type of people doing these dodgy deals will be so quick to turn grass. I certainly wouldn't fancy shopping a mate that has access to an AK-47.