Concealed Online is one of Facebook’s top ten biggest spenders on political ads, from which Facebook has earned more than $6.4 million
Boston (November 25, 2019) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) today was joined by six of his Senate colleagues in seeking answers from Facebook on it is role in facilitating misleading and dangerous gun advertisements on its platform. Advertisements on Facebook from the company Concealed Online, a for-profit company based in California, has led consumers to believe there is a legal “loophole” that exists that allows them to qualify for and purchase concealed-carry permits online. Recent news reports show Concealed Online is exploiting a Virginia law allowing non-residents to apply for concealed-carry permits after completing online safety training.
Concealed Online has two different versions of its site. Users that accesses Concealed Online’s site independent of any Facebook advertisements are directed to a training video and test, and can pay up to $130 for a certificate of completion. These users see disclaimers that explain Virginia law still requires non-residents to apply through Virginia authorities to obtain the actual concealed-carry permit, and the permit is valid only in states with reciprocity laws. But users who are rerouted to Concealed Online through advertisements on Facebook find a far less transparent, highly sensational version of the site. More than one-third of Concealed Online’s Facebook ads contained links allowing consumers to bypass the critical disclaimers, forgo the safety training altogether, or both.
Facebook has determined that Concealed Online’s ads do not violate its policy against false or misleading claims and has only taken action against one type of Concealed Online ad and still allows the ads on all its platforms. The Senators are seeking answers to several questions, including how many Concealed Online ads have been taken down and why? And what proactive measures is Facebook taking to mitigate the considerable risks to public safety presented by ads that mislead consumers into believing they can purchase a concealed-carry permit?
“Removing only the most egregious ads still leaves those that mislead consumers into paying for a certificate that is legally meaningless unless verified by Virginia authorities,” write the Senators in their letter. “It is crucial that Facebook take action to remove this misleading and dangerous content from its platform.”
A copy of the letter can be found HERE.
Concealed Online is one of Facebook’s top ten biggest spenders on political ads and has run more than 25,000 ads on Facebook, from which Facebook has earned more than $6.4 million.
Also signing the letter are Senators Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and Jack Reed (D-R.I.).