The Washington Post
By Naomi Nix and Elizabeth Dwoskin
Three top Senate Democrats are urging Facebook to be more transparent about an internal policy that allows gun sellers to violate the company’s prohibition against peer-to-peer firearm sales 10 times before they are kicked off the platform.
Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) sent a letter to Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, requesting documentation about how the company’s “strikes” system, which gives users who break the company’s rules a specific number of passes and a tiered system of punishments, applies to guns. The senators also asked for copies of all instructions given to content moderators about guns in the past year.
“Facebook’s 10-strike policy is unwarranted and dangerous,” the lawmakers wrote. “Giving users multiple opportunities to sell weapons that can end up in the wrong hands is a loophole that calls into question Facebook’s representations about and commitment to ending gun sales on its platform.”
Andy Stone, a spokesman for Facebook parent company Meta, directed The Post to a previous statement that the company quickly removes posts that violate its firearm sales ban and imposes increasingly severe penalties for repeat rule-breakers. Facebook didn’t dispute the existence of the 10-strikes rule.
The lawmakers’ letter arrives as Congress is poised to pass modest firearm sales restrictions in the wake of the May 24 killing of 19 students and two teachers inside an Uvalde, Tex., elementary school after decades of political gridlock on the issue. On Thursday, the Senate passed the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act, which is focused on keeping guns away from potential killers while also bulking up the nation’s mental-health-care capacity with billions of dollars in new funding. The legislation is expected to pass the House on Friday.
Earlier this month, The Post reported, using internal documents and interviews with current and former employees, that Facebook’s internal punishment system is far more lenient for gun sellers than it is for violators of other rules, such as sharing child pornography.
Gun buyers and sellers can violate the rule 10 times before they are removed from the social network. A separate, five-strikes policy extends even to gun sellers and purchasers who actively call for violence or praise a known dangerous organization, according to the internal guidance obtained by The Post.
Earlier this week, the advocacy groups Accountable Tech and Giffords urged Zuckerberg to replace the policy with a “more decisive two-strike policy” instead, according to a letter obtained by The Post.