Facebook is continuing its crackdown on potential domestic terrorism at President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration. The social network told BuzzFeed News that it was temporarily banning US ads for gun accessories and military gear, such as holsters and body armor, until “at least” January 22nd. The restriction came from an “abundance of caution” in response to BuzzFeed, politicians and Facebook staff, according to spokesperson Liz Bourgeois.
The company already barred ads for guns, ammo and gun enhancements like silencers.
The pause followed warnings of a spike in ads for the accessories in the days following the January 6th Capitol riot. The ads were frequently popping up for people who followed extreme right-wing groups and pages, and often directly addressed the potential violence surrounding Biden’s inauguration.
Senators Richard Blumenthal, Sherrod Brown and Tammy Duckworth accused Facebook of profiting from the chaos, while attorneys general for Illinois, Massachussetts, New Jersey and Washington, DC urged Facebook to freeze ads.
The decision comes hours after Facebook blocked events in the DC area, and days after it banned all mentions of the “stop the steal” slogan used for rallying unsupported claims of widespread voter fraud in the 2020 presidential election. The thinking appears to be the same: Facebook doesn’t want even the slightest implication of enabling violence during inauguration week, even if it’s a largely symbolic move when extremists may already have the gear they need.