Gun control group welcomes news Facebook hires content reviewers

Groups supported by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Thursday applauded news that the social network is beefing up its policing efforts.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced Wednesday that, in the wake of a series of suicides and murders posted to the site, he is adding 3,000 new employees to the force of 4,500 on the company’s community operations team which review reported posts and videos.

“These reviewers will also help us get better at removing things we don’t allow on Facebook like hate speech and child exploitation,” said Zuckerberg. “And we’ll keep working with local community groups and law enforcement who are in the best position to help someone if they need it — either because they’re about to harm themselves, or because they’re in danger from someone else.”

Zuckerberg went on to detail that the network is also moving to make it simpler to report problems in a way that makes it faster for reviewers to address flagged posts, and alert law enforcement if needed.

While the Facebook boss made no mention of gun sales or firearms in his 320-word announcement, gun control advocates Moms Demand Action and Everytown for Gun Safety quickly released a statement welcoming the news.

“Moms are grateful for Facebook’s announcement signaling a strong commitment to their effort to end all unlicensed gun sales arranged on their platforms,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, in a statement. “This increase in staffing affirms Facebook’s leading industry role in gun violence prevention – and shows its commitment to preventing gun violence.”

In 2014, the groups ran a campaign against Facebook and sister site Instagram for allowing individual users to post guns for sale, claiming it circumvented gun background checks and allowed criminals to buy illegal weapons. Facebook followed up by moving to block sales between private parties attempting to transfer a firearm to a felon, minor or across state lines without an FFL. At the time, the National Rifle Association claimed victory for the move as well.

Continued pressure ultimately resulted in a more widespread ban on private, person-to-person sales of guns in 2016, but posts by licensed gun dealers are allowed, a change for which the gun control groups took credit.

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