Facebook Takes Drastic Action by Deleting Gun Sellers' Pages

Say What!? 8

Would you be surprised if you saw an ad for a gun on Facebook? I'm not sure I would -- I mean, I've seen a thousand ads for bogus weight loss products that are falsely endorsed by Dr. Oz, so I pretty much assumed anything could go -- but apparently it's against company policy to advertise weapons on the social media site. The specific language from Facebook reads, "Ads may not promote the sale or use of weapons, ammunition, or explosives."

So you'd think if someone snuck a forbidden ad past the regulatory guidelines, Facebook would just delete the ad, right? Well, in the case of several gun sellers who ran a sweepstakes for an AR-15 rifle recently, Facebook didn't just kill the promotion -- they killed the company pages altogether. In one case, a business lost more than 27,000 hard-won followers with this single punitive action by Facebook.

A while ago, a number of online gun sellers -- including Pittsburgh Tactical Firearms, AR15news.com, 556 Tactical LLC, and Gun Sweeps -- participated in a sweepstakes program that promoted AR-15 giveaways via Facebook. Facebook had no problem with this until they were contacted by the media start-up Vocativ for a story about the giveaways, at which point a company spokesman said 1) they hadn't known about the giveaways, and 2) the giveaways violated the social network's terms and that the ads would likely be shut down.

Instead, the actual company pages were terminated. Erik Lowry from Pittsburgh Tactical Firearms said he'd received no notice about the decision, and in fact didn't even realize what was going on until some of his 27,000 fans began emailing him to ask what had happened to the page.

He says he's since sent more than 100 messages through appeals, but Facebook hasn't responded.

Without hearing Facebook's side of things, it's hard to know why they made this decision -- but I'd guess they've decided to classify a gun seller's page as "promoting the sale or use of weapons." It's a gray area for sure, though, because no sales transactions are conducted through the pages themselves, and how can you definitively say that a page listing inventory and promotions encourages the use of a particular product?

In my opinion, the really crappy thing here isn't that Facebook objects to the content, it's that they issued exactly zero warning before deleting the pages. Businesses work hard to build up their fans, and sometimes they spend a lot of money to do so. Erasing someone's entire brand presence without any sort of notification is a pretty drastic move.

Of course, Facebook makes the rules and if they don't want anything to do with weapons and explosives, there's probably not much Pittsburgh Tactical can do about it. I guess knife pages are okay, though. Oh, and AR-15 accessories, tactical weapons, gun & ammo sales, katana swords, fireworks, and medieval torture methods.

What do you think of Facebook's decision to shut down these gun sellers' pages?

Image via Simonov/Flickr



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LostS... LostSoul88

It may not be all FB, it may be stick up the ass people pushing them to do it. 

miche... micheledo

Fine. But then please, please, please remove the businesses for porn and the pedophile pages. Neither are allowed, so remove the entire page. Otherwise they have nothing to stand on for this decision.

Christina Mancuso-Henry

Hey Facebook, why don't you stay out of politics? Last time I checked you were a social-networking site, not a bleeding heart liberal propaganda machine. Then again these are the same people who delete and ban pro-breastfeeding photography and material so this shouldn't surprise anyone!

Vegeta Vegeta

It's their site so they make the rules for all users to follow. But a notice to delete the ad or else the page would be closed would have been nice. And if those pages were shut down, then fb needs to shut down everything that goes against policy.

Cel7777 Cel7777

Their site, their choice as to what content they allow. That said, it would have been decent to at least give these businesses a warning before simply shutting down their pages.

nonmember avatar kaerae

It's a private site, don't like their rules, go start your own redneckbook.

miche... micheledo

To those sayong it is a private site, you are missing the point. This goes against their OWN rules. They say the ads are not permitted. They say that naked photos are not permitted. They don't say your business page will be removed. So, my point is that if they are going to remove a business page for posting a giveaway (not technically an ad) then they should also remove porn sites when a naked photo is posted that links to that company. Same difference.

Change your rules, or follow your own rules. DON'T make up stuff as you go. Fine, they don't want to allow abusiness page for a gun company, then make that a rule. However, that is NOT a rule at this time.

nonmember avatar Elizabeth

Working in marketing for a university, I know that facebook has rules about having giveaways/contests of ANY sort on facebook. So I'm sure that's the TOS they violated, not so much the selling of weapons. Who's to say they aren't multiple offenders and lost their page because of this?

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