ICT

Facebook won’t show weapon accessory ads to people under 18 – CNET

facebook-f8-2017-0149.jpg

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg

James Martin/CNET

Facebook on Friday said it’s updating its advertising policy to prohibit showing ads for weapons accessories to people under the age of 18. 

The social network currently bans ads for the sale of weapons and modifications, like magazines. But Facebook took an additional step of adding an age requirement for ads selling things like holsters, belt accessories or mounted flashlights. The new policy is set to go into effect June 21. 

Facebook’s updated weapons ad policy (click to enlarge).

Facebook

The announcement comes as the United States has been embroiled in a nationwide debate over gun reform. Mass shootings, including school attacks in Parkland, Florida, and Santa Fe, Texas, have intensified the discussion.  

Facebook isn’t the only Silicon Valley company that’s waded into the gun debate by restricting the content on its platforms. In March, YouTube, owned by Google, said it will ban videos that promote or link to websites that sell firearms and accessories. The company had already banned videos that attempted to sell firearms.

Facebook’s advertising and data collection policies have more broadly been under scrutiny as the company deals with the toughest crises in its 14-year history. In March, the social network was criticized for a scandal involving Cambridge Analytica, a digital consultancy with ties to the Trump presidential campaign, which improperly accessed personal information on up to 87 million Facebook users.

The company has also been in the hot seat for not doing enough to prevent abuse from Russian trolls who posted misinformation and divisive content on the platform in an attempt to meddle in the election and sow discord among voters.

Facebook’s updated ad policy could ruffle conservatives and Second Amendment advocates. Some conservatives are already suspicious of Facebook, accusing the social network of liberal bias and suppression of conservative voices. 

The National Rifle Association didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. 

On Friday, Facebook updated its advertising policy page with examples of what kinds of firearm ads are and aren’t allowed on the platform. For example, ads for gun cases, slings and gun paint are allowed, but only with the new age restriction. Ads for firearms themselves, ammunition, paintball guns or BB guns aren’t allowed.

Facebook said that in the weeks ahead it will work with businesses and organizations that may be affected by the new age restriction policy. 

The Smartest Stuff: Innovators are thinking up new ways to make you, and the things around you, smarter.

Special Reports: CNET’s in-depth features in one place.