SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Facebook Inc and its photo sharing subsidiary, Instagram, will delete posts offering to buy or sell guns without background checks, Facebook announced on Wednesday.
In an effort to curb what gun control advocates say is the increasing use of the social networks to circumvent checks and controls on firearms sales, Facebook and Instagram will also bar users under 18 from viewing gun offers posted by individuals or groups.
"We will not permit people to post offers to sell regulated items that indicate a willingness to evade or help others evade the law," Facebook said.
The move by the world's largest social network and Instagram may add fuel to an already intense debate over U.S. gun rights, following a series of mass shootings across the country.
Facebook said the policy change was made in consultation with a number of individuals and organizations, including New York state Attorney General Attorney Eric Schneiderman, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, Sandy Hook Promise and Moms Demand Action, which drew attention to loopholes on the Internet that allowed private sales of firearms without background checks.
"Our campaign exposed how simple it is for dangerous people to get their hands on guns, no questions asked - not only on Facebook and Instagram - but across the Internet," Mayors Against Illegal Guns Chairman John Feinblatt said in a joint statement with Moms Demand Action.
"Unfortunately, the ‘private sale loophole' allows anonymous parties to sell guns without background checks, and there are simply too many ways for criminals, minors and other prohibited gun purchasers to get them easily - with just the click of a mouse," Feinblatt said.
(Reporting by Edwin Chan; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)