What started as scattered reports of pro-gun Facebook groups being shut down quickly turned into a cacophony of complaints yesterday as the social media giant took a first step against supporters of the Second Amendment.
The targeted groups primarily consist of local or state wide buy / sell / trade groups. The sudden disappearance of so many pages across so much of the nation sent gun owners to other pages to see if it was a localized event.
Just as a frenzy was building, the group pages were suddenly reinstated with neither explanation nor notice.
The lack of definitive explanation from Facebook has caused rampant speculation. One rumor gaining speed is that Facebook restored the pages in order to avoid impacting today’s election and will delete the pages again sometime next week.
That the deleted and restored pages were buy / sell / trade groups brings back memories of earlier this year when Facebook briefly considered banning gun pages.
Back in March, Facebook gave in to pressure from Moms Demand Action and the now defunct Mayors Against Illegal Guns (since replaced with Everytown for Gun Safety by Mayor Michael Bloomberg after failing to accomplish anything) and agreed to delete posts from users selling illegal guns or offering weapons for sale without background checks.
“We will remove reported posts that explicitly indicate a specific attempt to evade or help others evade the law,” the company said in a statement at the time. “For example, we will remove reported posts where the potential buyer or seller indicates they will not conduct a background check or are willing to sell across state lines without a licensed firearms dealer.”
Is this the start of a new era of Facebook aggressiveness towards and censorship of pro gun pages or “just” an aggressive expansion of the Facebook policy regarding simple communication between adults in private groups regarding a private party transaction?
UPDATE: We have received some reports from some group admins that they were instructed to add Facebook’s policy, mentioned above, to their group’s “About Us” information in order to remain compliant with Facebook policies.