Fake Friends: Facebook Encourages Snitches on Social Media

There’s no denying Facebook is the ultimate social media website. With more than 1.6 billion active users each month and nearly 800 million daily users, it has become the place to be for not only Americans but users across the globe. Age doesn’t really matter, either, despite the supposed restrictions loosely placed by Facebook itself. Simply enter a different year into the birthdate slot while registering and voila, you have a profile whether you’re 10 years old or 90.

One group boosting the social media site’s membership significantly is that of gun owners and hunters. There are a vast number of pages and groups dedicated to shooting and hunting and gun owners themselves fill their pages with images and tales of their latest outings, purchases, and firearms-related opinions. There are, after all, something like 270 million guns in the United States with more being purchased on a daily basis. Yes, gun owners make up a sizable piece of the social media pie, and despite that reality Facebook is now forcibly pushing them away. Not only are they pushing them away, they’re going about it by using a rather underhanded method.

It all began when Everytown for Gun Safety’s Shannon Watts began approaching Facebook about the perils of firearms ownership. Everytown, as it is often referred to, was only recently founded in 2014 but can be traced back to a somewhat older group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns. Interestingly, both those groups are tied firmly to Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America (more commonly referred to as Moms Demand Action or simply MDA). This trifecta of groups was created by none other than the 108th Mayor of New York City, Michael R. Bloomberg. Bloomberg founded the initial group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, in 2006 with assistance from co-founder and then-Mayor of Boston Thomas Merino.

The reason given for creating the group was as a response to the quickly escalating issue of illegal guns being used to commit violent crimes. It ended up falling apart when the mayors involved realized the group was actually being used as a platform to further gun control across the board rather than promoting laws intended to halt the spread of illegally-gained firearms. When the first group failed, Bloomberg decided to launch Everytown which has since become one of the largest gun control organizations in the country. Everytown’s mission statement is: “Everytown is a movement of Americans working together to end gun violence and build safer communities. Gun violence touches every town in America. For too long, change has been thwarted by the Washington gun lobby and by leaders who refuse to take common-sense steps that will save lives. But something is changing. More than 3 million mayors, moms, cops, teachers, survivors, gun owners, and everyday Americans have come together to make their own communities safer. Together, we are fighting for the changes that we know will save lives. Everytown starts with you, and in starts in your town.” Of course, it doesn’t just start in your town, it starts with your social media page.

Shannon Watts
Shannon Watts

Shannon Watts of Everytown made it the group’s mission to eradicate firearms from Facebook. As is frequently the case in such situations, they ended up choosing a specific branch of firearms on social media to hack off: sales. They undoubtedly approached Facebook with their usual stack of statistics, many of which are generated from within between Everytown and the well-known gun control group the Brady Campaign. Not that it was necessary to frighten Zuckerberg and others with manufactured and inflated numbers telling a blood-soaked tale of death and terror. Zuckerberg has not tried to disguise his Democratic beliefs; whether it’s the rainbow-hued profile picture offered to users in support of homosexuality or this latest attack on gun owners, his leftist leanings are crystal clear.

“In this country we know that 40% of gun sales are through unlicensed dealers, without background checks.” (Shannon Watts, Everytown for Gun Safety, during an interview with “Fast Company” in January 2016)

The culmination of Everytown’s efforts and Facebook’s longstanding dislike of firearms and hunting ended up taking place at the end of January 2016. That wasn’t the only politically-motivated, gun-related occurrence of the month in question, though. Not by a long shot (pun intended). January was also the month when our nation’s POTUS, Barack Hussein Obama, announced he was done bowing to outside pressure and Congress’s ongoing refusal to endorse strict gun control laws. He would simply write executive orders, popular opinion be damned. Part of Obama’s announcement took place with the help of CNN’s Guns in America Town Hall, hosted by Anderson Cooper. His opinions and glaring lack of personal experience – or even a basic understanding of firearms in general – were made obvious, and the anti-gun sentiment rolled onward. Small surprise Facebook quickly followed in Obama’s footsteps.

Watts was quite pleased with Facebook’s announcement. In an interview with the New York Times she informed a reporter the site had earned her stamp of approval: “What they’re doing is sending such an incredibly strong, sentinel signal to the world that America is working in the right direction on guns. For them to take a stand and do the right thing gives cover to other businesses to do the right thing.”

By January 29th, 2016 the news was everywhere: Facebook was banning private gun sales. According to the social media giant this restriction would only apply to non-FFLs, still allowing FFLs to complete sales off-site. Immediately, a number of popular gun-related pages simply vanished. These were not pages devoted to gun sales. In fact, quite a few were run by admins who warned against sales and removed any posts that violated the page’s posted standards forbidding sales. Dozens were deleted by Facebook with no notice whatsoever. Admins were not warned, messages were not sent out. The pages were just gone, pages with thousands of members, pages where gun sales were not part of the daily rotation but talking about guns was a given.

It didn’t take certain members of the media to connect the dots. Obama stomps his feet and proclaims he’ll just write executive orders to get his way since Congress won’t back them as actual proposed laws. Obama holds a so-called town hall to discuss guns, a town hall that was nothing but a platform for his deeply biased and horribly uninformed opinions. Facebook enacts a site-wide ban supposedly aimed at non-FFLs.

FacebookThe White House refused to admit involvement in Facebook’s decision although even their non-answer was a response of its own. Josh Earnest, the White House spokesman, told reporters the administration had indeed been involved in meetings with various social media and technology companies. The goal of those meetings was, yes, discussing how best to close what he referred to as the “Internet loophole” of gun sales. Earnest went on to simply say he “could not say” whether Facebook’s decision to ban sales and request users act as snitches took place due to “any specific request” from someone in the administration. He then added, “We welcome this step. We talked about how the internet is a loophole [for gun sales].” His conclusion? This is a “common-sense effort to prevent guns from falling into the hands of criminals or other individuals who shouldn’t be allowed to access guns.”

How does Facebook intend to halt the sales of firearms on the site? While it is true technology allows for all manner of spying and watchdog tendencies, such an undertaking would involve countless man-hours and an expenditure Facebook does not currently wish to take on. So they’re relying on their members. They’re counting on users to rat one another out; they’re hoping for an era of snitches. And when those snitches deliver, they don’t have the time – or perhaps don’t care to spend the time – to review reports. Pages go down, users are banned, end of story. Or is it?

Something else is now taking place: a significant surge of freshly-created user accounts on Facebook. With those new accounts come a string of friend requests, and those requests are targeting gun owners and hunters. It isn’t just Joe Average reporting a surprising increase in friend requests, either, it’s also NRA employees, outfitters, and outdoor writers.

On a regular basis, the requests come from accounts created within a few hours prior and usually there are absolutely no friends in common between the requesting account and the established user. Sometimes, if the requests sit long enough, the brand new account has had time to gather a handful of mutual friends. Sometimes a user has mutual friends who are either not astute enough or simply careless when it comes to accepting new friend requests. These new accounts are typically graced with profile pictures depicting a man or woman holding a fish although sometimes it’s just a selfie of the supposedly new Facebook user. Other times the image does depict a hunter having successfully taken game, but by and large those images are stolen. Sometimes they’re immediately recognizable, having been stolen by the new account from outfitters, professional hunters, and outdoor writers known within the community. Sometimes the pictures are even stolen from public pages used by television personalities within the gun and hunting industry. The names are frequently laughable: Sharon Stone – listed on a man’s new account, and displaying the usual profile picture of a guy holding up a fish. It seems these new “users” have no qualms taking the pictures they want and using them as a means to an end: reeling in dedicated hunters and legal firearm owners. To some on Facebook, the end clearly justifies the means. The end goal is, of course, getting law-abiding gun owners and hunters banned from the social media site.

I recently discussed this with another outdoor writer, one a bit higher up the gun-writer food chain as an NRA field editor. It’s supposition, I declared, happy to play the devil’s advocate. How can we prove these requests are coming from fakes looking to report our photos of guns and game with an end goal of getting us all banned? Easily, as it turns out. Users within the industry who have accepted some of those suspicious requests in recent weeks have been rewarded with just that: pictures showing a buck successfully bagged and tagged or a feral hog dropped by bullet or bow have been reported without delay. Said pictures aren’t really reviewed by Facebook, either, despite the site’s claims they’ll do just that. They’re simply banned, and if the user receives enough complaints they themselves are summarily removed and banned from the site.

This is far different than the rather lecherous, sometimes creepy friend requests received by those of us who are female shooters and hunters. It’s different than the onslaught of friend requests female shooters and hunters receive from fellow male shooters and hunters who are sometimes over-excited by the appearance of a woman with similar interests in such a male-dominated industry. And it’s certainly different from the random friend requests sometimes straggling in from a friend of a friend who agreed with some comment you made on the original friend’s page and now wants to be online buddies.

Facebook NotificationsIn this world of legalities, #BlackLivesMatter, manipulative, self-serving halftime shows and executive orders there is a word for such behavior: entrapment. But wait, you say, entrapment is by its definition the case in which a government agent induces someone to commit a crime. These new accounts are (probably) not government agents and if they are indeed reporting a non-FFL gun sale it may not be a law broken, but it’s still a broken rule that should rightfully result in a ban. Right? Wrong.

While it is true entrapment is, as outlined above, a reference to government agents and criminal offenses that is only in cases concerning criminal law. Generally it is not against the law to privately sell a firearm assuming the parties involved are law-abiding citizens allowed to possess said firearm. Meaning, assuming there are not state or personal legal restrictions, it’s not against the law. The Facebook ban is a rule the site is trying to enforce by enlisting its anti-gun, anti-hunting members to report untoward activities. However, those members are not looking for non-FFL gun sales alone. They’re looking for guns in general and dead game animals in general. They’re using what has become a common American ailment to report these things: being offended.

Entrapment isn’t just a term applying to criminal law; entrapment applies across the board. While it may seem a stretch to use the word in this particular case, it really is not. It might not apply legally but it does apply to the situation. Friending someone – not just friending them but going through the trouble to create a profile that appears to be owned by someone with mutual guns-and-hunting interests – only for the purpose of reporting that person’s pictures with the hope of getting them banned? That’s the very definition of entrapment. It doesn’t have to have legal connotations to be applicable.

I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again: we’ve become a country filled with people easily offended. And now Facebook has given the easily offended all the encouragement they need to run rampant, reporting pictures and getting other members banned for imagined slights. The sin of possessing a legally-owned firearm or daring to hunt wild game for meat – or, god forbid, for meat and a nice set of antlers for your living room wall –is now one punishable by Facebook banishment.

Think about that the next time you log on Facebook. More importantly, think about that next time you accept a friend request. Thanks, Facebook. Thanks, Zuckerberg. Nice job encouraging paranoia and overall idiocy.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Katherine Ainsworth

Katherine Ainsworth

Katherine is a military and political journalist with a reputation for hard-hitting, no-holds-barred articles. Her career as a writer has immersed her in the military lifestyle and given her unique insights into the various branches of service. She is a firearms aficionado and has years of experience as a K9 SAR handler, and has volunteered with multiple support-our-troops charities for more than a decade. Katherine is passionate about military issues and feels supporting service members should be the top priority for all Americans. Her areas of expertise include the military, politics, history, firearms and canine issues.
Katherine Ainsworth
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1 thought on “Fake Friends: Facebook Encourages Snitches on Social Media

  1. Every site depends on snitches to get rid of photos or accounts that arent supposed to be there. For example, nudity photos. There are even report features in online games. The moderators dont have time to look through every conversation or photo or page themselves, so they rely on other users to report it. Facebook is just another site, and it has rules like any other site. If you want to be a member, you have to follow the rules or else face banning. People who want to show off their hunting pix should either make sure to not accept friend requests from strangers, or not post those photos where strangers can see them. Its sad, but i guess freedom of speech doesnt apply to the internet. But facebook isnt even the worst of the free speech squelchers. Daily kos is worse, just as an example. Post an opinion diary on that site that the leaders disageee with, and you will get banned. At least facebook allows for the option of making your posts friends only.

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