Legal and Regulatory

Facebook bans 3D printed guns in news feed, messenger and Instagram

Despite Cody Wilson’s assertions, the debate over 3D printed guns is not over yet. Last week, social media giant Facebook became the latest organization to weigh-in on the discussion in an update to its Community Guidelines.

According to numerous sources, Facebook released a statement saying: “Sharing instructions on how to print firearms using 3D printers is not allowed under our Community Standards,”

“In line with our policies, we are removing this content from Facebook.”

Thoughts? Answers in an email please, or via Twitter. Post reactions graphic via Facebook
Thoughts? Answers in an email please, or via Twitter…or an appropriate emoji. Post reactions graphic via Facebook

The so-called age of the downloadable gun

Though 3D printed guns remain a critically impractical and convoluted way of obtaining weapons, as one of the most “hot topics” of 3D printing, in the public eye at least, we have been closely monitoring the rise of the “3D Downloadable Gun”.

The idea was first conceived in 2012/2013 when crypto-anarchist and gun-rights activist Cody Wilson designed and began the digital distribution of files to make the Plastic Liberator handgun.

Recently, the debate over availability of these files reached a new peak when Wilson and gun rights non-profit group the Second Amendment Foundation (SAF) succeeded in a legal battle at a court in Texas.

The Brady Center to Prevent Gun ViolenceEverytown for Gun Safety and the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence tried, and subsequently failed, to acquire an injunction on the ruling, and a number of 3D printing stakeholders have spoken out against the decision.

In the weeks following this decision made by the Department of Justice, Wilson’s site for sharing the files (Defense Distributed) was taken offline by an order from a federal judge in Washington, and the issue has served to inflame further discussion over the general terms of gun control in the United States.

However, since the files were shared by Wilson, they have remained online through sources outside of Defense Distributed.

The Plastic Liberator 3D printed gun. Photo by Lorenza Baroncelli
Banned from Facebook: The Plastic Liberator 3D printed gun. Photo by Lorenza Baroncelli

Facebook prohibits downloadable guns

Sites known to contain files for 3D printing the Plastic Liberator and semi-automatic firearms, have now been prohibited by Facebook.

Sharing such links and files fall under the site’s Regulated Goods Policy that prohibits “the purchase, sale, gifting, exchange and transfer of firearms, including firearm parts or ammunition, between private individuals on Facebook.”

The policy affects all posts made to Facebook news feed, friend timelines, private messenger exchanges and Instagram, with any attempt automatically flagging as spam.

In response to the move, the Firearms Policy Coalition has created a call to action asking Facebook to lift the ban on one affected site, that advocates: “Information is code. Code is free speech. Free speech is freedom.”

According Buzzfeed, a Facebook spokesperson has said “the company is currently working on scaling up its anti–3D gun policy.”

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Featured image shows the Defense Distributed founder Cody Wilson holding the 3D printed Plastic Liberator. Photo by Lorenza Baroncelli