5 At A Time: Chasing Guns From Facebook

In early 2016, Facebook banned private party gun sales. However, they don’t actively police the site for them, simply relying on users to flag prohibited transactions. And that’s where we come in! Let’s make it just a little bit more of a pain for buyers and sellers to conduct anonymous transactions in fast food parking lots. This guide will show you how to shut down gun sales groups via your iPhone or desktop, which is what I have access to. All of the reporting is completely anonymous — no one will know you’ve reported a group unless you tell people! If anyone would like to write a guide for other platforms (Especially Android), please let me know and I’ll link it here.

Rules of Engagement

Facebook bans the advertising or sales of guns, gun parts or ammunition between private parties. They do not restrict licensed dealers, so for the moment reporting gun shop pages will do you no good — please familiarize yourself with their policies and report only what is not allowed! The low-hanging fruit at the moment is groups set up for the purpose of gun buy/sell/swap. Facebook will flag your account as a spammer if you flag groups too rapidly, so pace yourself — report 5 or so, wait 5 minutes, then another 5. Note that if you report too rapidly on a desktop you will receive a warning before you are blocked from flagging for 24 hours, but on an iPhone you will be blocked without any warning. Don’t worry about this much — it will only affect your ability to report groups, and only for 24 hours. If you pace yourself you may be able to report 90 or more per day!

A few people have reported that they do not have the option to report specifically for guns — it does not seem to have been rolled out to all users quite yet. In some cases, if the user who does not have the option flags a group and indicates another reason, the ability to report for guns has been added to their account (desktop and mobile).

There has been considerable discussion of search terms — you should experiment! Try adding one of the words “buy, sell, sale, trade, exchange, trader” to one of the words/phrases: “gun, guns, firearms, rifle, pistol, shotgun, gunz, AK47, AR15, SKS, pew, airgun, BB, pellet, tactical, weapons, weaponry, armory, gun bash, ammo, firearms, man cave, hunting, outdoors, EDC (stands for every day carry), handgun, molon labe (“come and take them” in Latin)”. You can also use the name of manufacturers like Ruger, Remington, Glock or Sig Sauer. Some intrepid folks are searching posts for keywords (works better on a desktop) and tracing them back to the group the post is in.

iPhone Guide

Step 1: Acquire target. Do a search, try “guns sell” or “firearms sell” for your first try. Scroll over to and select “Groups”.

Step 2: Take your aim. While we’ve tried to target larger groups, there is no shame in reporting a small or inactive group — it prevents migration. Groups can be either open or closed — you do not need to be a member to report a group.

Step 3: Finger on the trigger.

Select “View Group Info” as shown above. In the next screen, scroll down and click “report group”.

Step 4: Fire your weapon

On the report screen, select “It’s for selling drugs, guns or other regulated goods”. Then select “Submit to Facebook for Review”.

Select “It’s for selling drugs, guns…”
Submit for Review

Step 5: Retrieve Your Trophy

The groups you’ve reported are found in the “Help and Support” section of your Facebook App. Select “Help and Support”, then “Help Center”. You’ll find the status of all the groups you’ve reported under “New Messages”. Reports are generally reviewed within 24–36 hours. Screenshot your successes and share them on Facebook and Twitter!

Select “Help and Support”
Select “Help Center”
Select “New Messages”
Screenshot your trophies!

Desktop Guide

Step 1: Acquire target. For your first search, try “guns sell” or “firearms sell”. Select “Groups”.

Step 2: Take your aim. While we’ve tried to target larger groups, there is no shame in reporting a small or inactive group — it prevents migration. Groups can be either open or closed — you do not need to be a member to report a group.

Step 3: Finger on the trigger.

Select “Report Group” as shown below.

Step 4: Fire your weapon

On the report screen, select “It’s for selling drugs, guns or other regulated goods”. Then select “Submit to Facebook for Review”.

Step 5: Retrieve Your Trophy

The groups you’ve reported are found in the “Support Inbox” at the very bottom of the menu on the upper right hand side. You’ll find the status of all the groups you’ve reported there. Reports are generally reviewed within 24–36 hours. Screenshot your successes and share them on Facebook and Twitter!

Conclusion

Happy hunting! Spread this tutorial, and feel free to post your tips and tricks for shutting down private Facebook gun sales.

Big thanks to Mike Monteiro, inspiration for this project. You can reach me on Twitter as well.