Facebook has announced a crackdown on the sharing of 3D-printed gun files across its platforms.
The social network will remove posts and links providing instructions on how to print 3D firearms in response to growing concerns across a number of states in the US.
“Sharing instructions on how to manufacture firearms using 3D printers or CNC milling machines is not allowed under our community standards,” a Facebook spokesman confirmed.
“In line with our policies, we are removing this content from Facebook.”
Links to several websites well-known for distributing 3D-printed firearm blueprints are now blocked on the social network’s main site, Facebook Messenger and Instagram.
Users are presented with a warning message whenever they attempt to share content suspected of breaching the policies, reading: “The content or page you’re trying to share includes a link that our security systems have detected to be unsafe.”
Facebook said it is scaling up its policy on 3D-printed gun files further in due course, but did not specify what additional measures it was planning to put in place.
The current restriction puts it in line with the regulated goods policy rationale to limit gun sales and exchanges to licensed dealers, the company added.
One of the websites on the ban list has called the move an “outrageous display of censorship and bias” and “a human policy decision by Facebook executives to single us and our speech out for especially disfavourable treatment”.
3D-printed gun files have been available online for several years, but the debate recently intensified, after the federal government decided to reverse a decision to restrict a company from making them available.
In response, a lawsuit by eight states was launched against the decision.
“These downloadable guns are unregistered and very difficult to detect, even with metal detectors, and will be available to anyone regardless of age, mental health or criminal history,” said Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson.
“If the Trump administration won’t keep us safe, we will.”
Washington Governor Jay Inslee said: “It is deeply concerning that anyone could have the ability to create untraceable and potentially undetectable deadly weapons.
“We must do whatever we can to keep criminals from acquiring and creating these guns.
“The attorney general’s actions today are an important step in developing common sense gun measures that will help to protect public safety.”