Facebook, Instagram Announce New Educational and Enforcement Measures for Commercial Activity – Facebook Newsroom

Facebook, Instagram Announce New Educational and Enforcement Measures for Commercial Activity

March 05, 2014

Monika Bickert, Head of Global Policy Management

Facebook, at its heart, is about helping people connect and communicate. Because of the diversity of people and cultures on our services, we know that people sometimes post or share things that may be controversial or objectionable. We work hard to find a balance between enabling people to express themselves about topics that are important to them, and creating an environment that is safe and respectful.

This balance is important to how we view commercial activity on Facebook or Instagram. We have strict rules about how businesses can use our advertising tools. For example, we do not permit advertising for illegal drugs, tobacco products, prescription pharmaceuticals, weapons, and several other products and services, and restrict advertising for products such as alcohol, adult products, and gaming. In all cases, we have systems in place to review and remove advertising that violates our policies, is false, deceptive, or misleading.

Of course, most of our tools are free to use, and many people and organizations use them to establish a presence on Facebook, including to promote commercial transactions. While people can’t use our services to actually sell things to each other, they can set up a Page or make an occasional post to their Timeline to find a roommate, sell a home, or solicit contributions for a church or nonprofit organization. Just like posting on a bulletin board at a supermarket or community center, these activities may be considered commercial, but we treat this type of sharing like any other type of sharing on our services – and we respond to reports when something violates our Community Standards.

People sometimes use our free tools to discuss products that are regulated or controversial. In some cases they promote these products for sale or use, even though it’s not possible to complete a sale on Facebook or Instagram. While we’ve recently heard specific concerns from people about offers for the private sales of firearms, this is one of many areas where we face a difficult challenge balancing individuals’ desire to express themselves on our services, and recognizing that this speech may have consequences elsewhere.

Today, we are introducing a series of new educational and enforcement efforts for people discussing the private sale of regulated items:

Any time we receive a report on Facebook about a post promoting the private sale of a commonly regulated item, we will send a message to that person reminding him or her to comply with relevant laws and regulations. We will also limit access to that post to people over the age of 18.

We will require Pages that are primarily used by people to promote the private sale of commonly regulated goods or services to include language that clearly reminds people of the importance of understanding and complying with relevant laws and regulations, and limit access to people over the age of 18 or older if required by applicable law.

We will provide special in-app education on Instagram for those who search for sales or promotions of firearms.

We will not permit people to post offers to sell regulated items that indicate a willingness to evade or help others evade the law. For example, private sellers of firearms in the U.S. will not be permitted to specify “no background check required,” nor can they offer to transact across state lines without a licensed firearms dealer. We have worked with a number of individuals and organizations on the development of these efforts, which will be implemented and enforced in the coming weeks. We are grateful in particular for the advice offered by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Americans for Responsible Solutions, Sandy Hook Promise, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, and Moms Demand Action, which helped us develop an approach for the private sale of firearms. We also appreciate the feedback provided by the Facebook Safety Advisory Board.

As always, we encourage people who see anything that violates our policies to report it to us using the tools found throughout our services. Facebook and Instagram will continue to remove content, and notify law enforcement where appropriate, when we are notified about things shared on our services that suggest a direct, credible risk to others’ safety. We will also continue to strictly enforce our advertising policies.

We believe these collective efforts represent the right approach in balancing people’s desire to express themselves while promoting a safe, responsible community.

via Facebook, Instagram Announce New Educational and Enforcement Measures for Commercial Activity – Facebook Newsroom.

An Open Letter from Howard Schultz, ceo of Starbucks Coffee Company | Starbucks Coffee Company

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Posted by Howard Schultz, Starbucks chairman, president and chief executive officer

Dear Fellow Americans,

Few topics in America generate a more polarized and emotional debate than guns. In recent months, Starbucks stores and our partners (employees) who work in our stores have been thrust unwillingly into the middle of this debate. That’s why I am writing today with a respectful request that customers no longer bring firearms into our stores or outdoor seating areas.

From the beginning, our vision at Starbucks has been to create a “third place” between home and work where people can come together to enjoy the peace and pleasure of coffee and community. Our values have always centered on building community rather than dividing people, and our stores exist to give every customer a safe and comfortable respite from the concerns of daily life.

We appreciate that there is a highly sensitive balance of rights and responsibilities surrounding America’s gun laws, and we recognize the deep passion for and against the “open carry” laws adopted by many states. (In the United States, “open carry” is the term used for openly carrying a firearm in public.) For years we have listened carefully to input from our customers, partners, community leaders and voices on both sides of this complicated, highly charged issue.

Our company’s longstanding approach to “open carry” has been to follow local laws: we permit it in states where allowed and we prohibit it in states where these laws don’t exist. We have chosen this approach because we believe our store partners should not be put in the uncomfortable position of requiring customers to disarm or leave our stores. We believe that gun policy should be addressed by government and law enforcement—not by Starbucks and our store partners.

Recently, however, we’ve seen the “open carry” debate become increasingly uncivil and, in some cases, even threatening. Pro-gun activists have used our stores as a political stage for media events misleadingly called “Starbucks Appreciation Days” that disingenuously portray Starbucks as a champion of “open carry.” To be clear: we do not want these events in our stores. Some anti-gun activists have also played a role in ratcheting up the rhetoric and friction, including soliciting and confronting our customers and partners.

For these reasons, today we are respectfully requesting that customers no longer bring firearms into our stores or outdoor seating areas—even in states where “open carry” is permitted—unless they are authorized law enforcement personnel.

I would like to clarify two points. First, this is a request and not an outright ban. Why? Because we want to give responsible gun owners the chance to respect our request—and also because enforcing a ban would potentially require our partners to confront armed customers, and that is not a role I am comfortable asking Starbucks partners to take on. Second, we know we cannot satisfy everyone. For those who oppose “open carry,” we believe the legislative and policy-making process is the proper arena for this debate, not our stores. For those who champion “open carry,” please respect that Starbucks stores are places where everyone should feel relaxed and comfortable. The presence of a weapon in our stores is unsettling and upsetting for many of our customers.

I am proud of our country and our heritage of civil discourse and debate. It is in this spirit that we make today’s request. Whatever your view, I encourage you to be responsible and respectful of each other as citizens and neighbors.


Howard Schultz

via An Open Letter from Howard Schultz, ceo of Starbucks Coffee Company | Starbucks Coffee Company.

More on thoughts on Starbucks policies.

I made a post about Starbucks last night that has generated far more traffic than I anticipated and ruffled a few feathers. Here’s the deal. As I said before, it really should come as no surprise. Starbucks, up to this point, has been neither friend nor foe to the firearms community. Because they chose to openly state they were going to obey the law, they started taking heat from anti-gun folks who believed the company to be a largely liberal-leaning organization.

That was bad enough but, then a bunch of folks decided to poke the anti-gun folks in the eye by staging “Starbucks Appreciation Days.” That wouldn’t be a problem except that it unlike the Chick-fil-A appreciation days for their Christian stance, it actually ended up driving more customers away from Starbucks than it brought in. Counter protests and social media campaigns by the anti-gun folks did nothing to help matters.

In the end, the company’s operations were being impacted and they were loosing money when these events happened. It’s a publicly traded corporation that has to answer to its shareholders. The company is trying to take a stand to answer shareholder concerns and yet stay out of a very public debate. Unfortunately, any public stance they take is going to be a problem for one side or the other. Quite honestly, if they’d simply chosen to say nothing publicly, they would have been better off all the way around.

Read the CEO’s letter. And the memo to their employees. They have not banned guns but, if you actually look at what’s being addressed here, it’s the open carry issue. While not banning firearms outright but, they still ask that that firearms not be brought into the store and one can infer that the mean those carried openly as they have no way of knowing a gun is present if said gun is concealed. They go on to instruct their employees that people are still welcome even if carrying a firearm (again, the only way they’d know is if you did so openly) and that they should not confront anyone who is carrying a firearm nor should they ask that person to leave because they are carrying a firearm. While some will see it as a wishy-washy policy, in essence it says, “please don’t bring your political fights to our stores.”

Furthermore, Starbucks specifically instructs their employees to leave customers alone unless they are disruptive. The instructions go on to say that even if someone is carrying a firearm and a customer becomes offended by this, Starbucks has instructed their employees not to ask anyone to leave. Again, only if someone is being disruptive should they be asked to leave.  That’s a policy common to all establishments open to the public. Most would consider reasonable regardless of political stance. In fact, it’s a policy that could result in the anti-gun party being the one who is asked to leave.

As members of the firearms community, we certainly can choose to boycott Starbucks. But if I didn’t make this clear before, that’s a numbers game we will not currently win. Everyone has to make their own decision. Some folks will actually continue to patronize Starbucks while others take umbrage and take their money elsewhere. I’m not a Starbucks customer because I’ve never gotten into the coffee addiction so this policy has no impact on my life.  But as I’ve watched the Open Carry movement, I am constantly reminded of scenes of the 1960s and the height of the Civil Rights movement when similar actions by the Black Panthers led to California beginning it’s slippery fall into being the anti-gun state it is today.  All I can say is tread lightly. We have every right to swing our fists in anger but, that right generally stops at the next guys nose and he’s got every right to ask that we not swing our fists in his shop.

Starbucks to ask customers not to bring guns in stores | Military Times GearScout

Starbucks to ask customers not to bring guns in stores | Military Times GearScout.

starbucksnewpolicyThis “change” in policy honestly comes as no surprise.  Back in 2010, Starbucks originally did the right thing by their customers and the law by stating their stores would obey the laws of the local jurisdictions with respect to open carry. That was a bold statement for a publicly traded company considering the fact so many of their stores are independently owned franchises and it meant corporate was dictating policy to private business owners. Not every partner was happy with this policy but, the Starbucks brand is so big that few were going to just walk away from a cash cow.

Some (not all) in the Open Carry movement took this statement as “support” from Starbucks and began organizing open carry events at Starbucks stores. It was anything but support. It was simply a notice of compliance with the law and nothing more. Not every partner was OK with this and many of the folks in the stores were simply too kind to say “No.” The events were certainly peaceful but, in more than a few places, it also drove away business and that nothing changes corporate policy faster than a hit in the profit margin.

The issue snowballed for Starbucks. First it was anti-gun counter protests which are rarely productive but, soon enough it turned into and social media campaigns and boycotts organized by state wide Democratic parties as well as as the usual anti-gun groups. Starbucks business partners and share holders started making noises too and this left Starbucks in a bad spot. All you have to do is listen in on an investors’ conference call when numbers are announced at the end of a financial quarter. The issue doesn’t come up every quarter but, it has come up and it’s never good when investors are worried about the political stance of a publicly traded company.

So again, to me it was just a matter of time.  Sometimes, when you poke the bear, you suffer the consequences. While we should have the right to choose to carry openly, it is clear that by openly flaunting that right in the general public, some have unwittingly created hostile environments for people who might otherwise have at least been neutral if not supportive to their cause.  This policy change is the result. And while there are those who will take the attitude that this does not matter, public perception is everything and the firearms community needs every ally it can get. A string of recent political victories does not constitute a war that is won.  At the end of the day, Starbucks is not the first company to choose profit over political neutrality, and they won’t be the last.

– Gary