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Facebook pauses ads for weapon accessories until January 22

Facebook will temporarily ban all the ads for weapon accessories and protective equipment ahead of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration on January 20.

The decision of the social media platform came in just after recent reporting from Buzzfeed News’ Ryan Mac and Craig Silverman, employee complaints, and concerns from senators and attorneys general who wrote letters to the company.

Reports say that this suspension in the US will last at least until January 22, which is two days after President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration.

Facebook released a press release with details on what the social network is doing ahead of the upcoming presidential inauguration with this new action. It is also putting a pause on political ads on the site and blocking events created at the White House and state capitol buildings for that day as a cautionary measure.

Facebook in the press release said, “We will now also prohibit ads for accessories like gun safes, gun holsters, and vests in the US.” Weapon-related ads are already banned on Facebook.

There is a huge concern about political violence in DC, and in cities across the country, after the pro-Trump supporters stormed Capitol Hill on January 6 with their efforts to stop the certification of President-elect Joe Biden. Biden’s inauguration rehearsal was also postponed due to the security threats.

As per reports by Mac and Silverman these types of ads are shown in News Feeds of people who had engaged with content about the attempted coup at the US Capitol building earlier this month. It is known that Facebook gets to profit from these ads.

Attorneys general even mentioned micro-targeting in their letter sent to Will Castleberry for Facebook Public Policy on January 15. The Attorneys general Karl Racine of DC, Kwame Raoul of Illinois, Maura Healey of Massachusetts, and Gurbir Grewal of New Jersey wrote to Facebook to take proactive steps and take down these ads to avoid any kind of violence ahead of the inauguration.

Their letter further read, “We believe that Facebook’s micro-targeted advertising of military-style tactical gear have an empathy for extremist content and election misinformation, and could even promote and facilitate politically motivated attacks.”

As per the letter, available through News reports, the senators wanted Zuckerberg to take immediate action to remove these advertisements.

A number of organizations have responded after the siege by suspending political contributions. Some corporations are suspending all political contributions, while others are only suspending donations to the lawmakers who opposed the certification. Facebook is banning all political donations for at least three months.

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