Facebook bans ads for gun accessories in run-up to inauguration

Two National Guard troops in the foreground frame a view of the Capitol dome in the distance.

National Guard troops assemble outside the US Capitol on Jan. 16.

Eric Thayer/Getty Images

Facebook is temporarily prohibiting ads for military gear and gun accessories in the United States until after the Jan. 20 presidential inauguration, the company said Saturday.

“We are banning ads that promote weapon accessories and protective equipment in the US at least through January 22, out of an abundance of caution,” the company said in an update to a Monday blog post about the social network’s preparations leading up to the inauguration of President-elect Joe Biden.

“We already prohibit ads for weapons, ammunition and weapon enhancements like silencers,” the company said. “But we will now also prohibit ads for accessories such as gun safes, vests and gun holsters in the US.”

Facebook had shown ads for “holsters, body armor, and other military-related paraphernalia in the News Feeds of people who had engaged with content about the attempted coup at the US Capitol building earlier this month,” said Buzzfeed News, which reported on the ban earlier Saturday and had reported on the gun-related ads earlier in the week. Lawmakers and Facebook employees have complained to the social network about the ads, the news outlet said.

Following the Jan. 6 storming of the Capitol by followers of President Donald Trump, social networks including Facebook have faced criticism that they’ve failed to effectively police disinformation and violent content on their sites. And along with law enforcement and civil rights groups, the platforms are bracing for the possibility of more violence in the days leading up to the inauguration.

On Friday, Facebook said that through Inauguration Day it’s blocking the creation of new events on its platform that take place close to locations including the White house, the Capitol and state capitol buildings.

And on Monday, Facebook said it would remove content from the main social network and Instagram that includes the phrase “stop the steal,” which has been used by Trump and his supporters to push baseless claims about voter fraud. A number of people have said such claims led to the violence at the Capitol, which left several people dead, including a Capitol Police officer.

CNET’s Abrar Al-Heeti and Queenie Wong contributed to this report.

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