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Sellers are listing guns for sale on Facebook disguised as stickers

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  • People are reportedly bypassing Facebook’s marketplace policies and selling guns by pretending to sell stickers, per a Wall Street Journal report.
  • The outlet found four sellers selling stickers promoting gun makers’ logos and priced for hundreds of dollars who confirmed when contacted privately that they were actually selling firearms.
  • Facebook prohibits the private sale of guns and ammunition on its marketplace, a policy that sellers have skirted in the past by pretending to advertise gun cases to instead sell firearms.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Sellers are pretending to sell stickers of gun makers’ logos to sell guns on Facebook, which is in violation of the company’s marketplace policies.

In a new investigation from the Wall Street Journal, the outlet found listings that appear to sell stickers promoting gun makers such as Ruger. When the Journal contacted the sellers, they revealed they actually intended to sell guns, not stickers.

A Mississippi seller posted a $450 sticker for sale sporting the logo for Glock and asked for interested buyers to message them privately for more details, according to the report. When the Journal contacted the seller privately, he revealed that he was really selling a .40-caliber pistol. Three other sellers with sticker listings confirmed to the Journal when contacted that they were indeed selling guns, not stickers. The outlet also found more than 40 results for “gun sticker” and “stickers” that included photos of gun makers’ logos.

Facebook prohibits the private sale of firearms and ammunition on its marketplace, and as the Journal notes, said in a quarterly report in early August that it removed 1.3 million firearm-related articles of content between April and June.

But this isn’t the first time that sellers have finagled their way around the policy. Sellers have listed gun cases or boxes for sale before at high prices, and when contacted privately, revealed the firearms — in one case a semiautomatic AR-15 — they intended to sell, per a separate WSJ report from 2019. The revelation prompted a slew of Democratic senators, including 2020 vice-presidential candidate Kamala Harris, to demand an explanation from Facebook on how it moderates gun sales on its marketplace. 

A company spokesperson told Business Insider in an email Facebook takes “action against anyone we catch trying to sell guns on our platform. We’ve removed listings that were flagged and will continue to investigate.”

As the report notes, firearm sales have spiked in recent months as the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent shutdowns have prompted people to seek guns as a means of protection. The widespread demonstrations protesting police brutality and civil unrest have also been cited as a potential contribution to the growing number of gun purchases in the US.

The report also comes as Facebook continues to struggle with content moderation on its platform, including policing the spread of conspiracy theories related to the coronavirus disease as well as far-right extremist groups like QAnon. The company employs both artificial intelligence algorithms and human moderators to sift through posts on the site.

Read the full report on The Wall Street Journal here.

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