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Press Release AG Healey Urges Facebook to Halt Weapon Accessory and Armor Advertisements amid Heightened Threats Ahead of Inauguration

Tells Facebook to Stop Allowing Targeted Advertisements to Extremist-Prone Users
For immediate release:
1/15/2021
  • Office of Attorney General Maura Healey

Media Contact for AG Healey Urges Facebook to Halt Weapon Accessory and Armor Advertisements amid Heightened Threats Ahead of Inauguration

Emalie Gainey

BOSTON Today, Attorney General Maura Healey joined the attorneys general from the District of Columbia, Illinois, and New Jersey in sending a letter to Facebook, Inc. (Facebook), urging the company to halt the advertising of military tactical gear and weapon accessories on its platform at least until after the presidential inauguration.

Following the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, technology and social media companies made public statements that they would not tolerate their platform being used to incite violence. Meanwhile, Facebook continues to allow targeted advertisements for military tactical gear and weapon accessories to Facebook users, including those who follow extremist content that encourages violence. The company also presents these advertisements in connection with posts that promote election disinformation, which has also been associated with violent conduct. In the letter, the attorneys general urge the company to immediately halt allowing these advertisements on its platform while the District of Columbia and Capitol buildings across the country prepare for heightened violence. 

“It’s unconscionable that a company would take advantage of this violence to make a profit,” said AG Healey. “We are calling on Facebook to take immediate action to prevent its platform from being used to promote weapons accessories or military tactical gear to individuals who have expressed an intent to commit violence. Facebook must do its part to help ensure public safety in the days and weeks ahead.”

Facebook, headquartered in Menlo Park, California, is a social networking service founded in 2004 that allows users to share content online. Every day, more than half of the U.S. population over the age of 13 uses Facebook services. The company makes money by selling targeted advertising to its users based on personal data Facebook compiles.

Following the breach of the U.S. Capitol building on January 6, Facebook removed President Trump’s account indefinitely for using the platform to “incite violent insurrection against a democratically elected government.” However, reports indicate that users who are believed to have an affinity for extremist content, including content inciting further violence or promoting election misinformation, are continuing to post and receive targeted advertisements for weapons accessories and military tactical gear, which could further promote and facilitate violent and politically motivated attacks.

A copy the letter is available here.

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Media Contact for AG Healey Urges Facebook to Halt Weapon Accessory and Armor Advertisements amid Heightened Threats Ahead of Inauguration

Office of Attorney General Maura Healey 

Attorney General Maura Healey is the chief lawyer and law enforcement officer of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
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