Facebook Temporarily Bans Ads for Gun Accessories, Protective Equipment

January 17, 2021 Updated: January 17, 2021

Facebook says that it’s temporarily banning ads that promote firearm accessories and protective gear in the United States until after President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.

In an update, the platform’s policymakers said the move, which will last through Jan. 22, was made “out of an abundance of caution.” The company didn’t respond to a request for comment by press time.

Facebook said it has already banned ads for weapons, ammunition, and firearms enhancements such as silencers, and the move expands the ban for accessories such as gun safes, vests, and gun holsters in the United States.

The social media platform has been ramping up its content policing and other measures in recent days leading up to Biden’s inauguration.

Last week, the platform said it was removing all content that contained the phrase “stop the steal.” The phrase was used by supporters of President Donald Trump to question the integrity of the 2020 general election. Trump supporters held multiple rallies across the country under the “Stop the Steal” slogan following the Nov. 3 election.

The social media company said that the move is an attempt to remove content that “could incite further violence during these next few weeks.” Content will be removed under the company’s “Coordinating Harm” policy.

The company said on Jan. 15 that it was also tracking signals of violence and other threats in Washington, as well as in states across the country.

“In the lead up to Inauguration Day, we have implemented a series of additional measures to continue preventing attempts to use our services for violence,” Facebook officials said in a statement.

The platform has also paused ongoing political advertising and has implemented specific measures to reduce opportunities for abuse in groups. These measures include: blocking the creation of any new Facebook events that occur in close proximity to the White House, the U.S. Capitol building, and any state capitol buildings through Inauguration Day; and restricting features for users in the United States based on repeat violations of its policies, such as blocking accounts from creating live videos or events.

Facebook’s announcements come as many Big Tech companies ramp up efforts to police content that they claim could lead to potential harm offline. The companies’ latest round of content policing was announced in response to the civil unrest and acts of violence at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 that marred otherwise peaceful protests.

Much of the moderation has impacted conservatives, people who are deemed supporters of President Donald Trump, and the president himself. Trump has since been suspended on most mainstream social media platforms following the Capitol breach.

The targeted moderation by Facebook, Twitter, and others have raised concerns over First Amendment rights and the lack of checks and balances on decisions made by these Big Tech companies. Efforts to limit or eliminate liability protections under Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act for tech companies that have engaged in censoring or political conduct have been heavily discussed in the past year.

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