Gun safety devices get caught in online advertising bans

As more Americans keep loaded guns in their homes, efforts to sell them new kinds of safety locks are getting stuck by policies intended to block ads for firearms online.

Digital marketing giants including Facebook and Alphabet’s Google often reject marketing from companies like Zore, the maker of a high-tech, quick-release gun lock, due to policies intended to forbid ads for the firearms themselves, manufacturers of the devices say.

“It really blocked all the ways we wanted to get people,” said Eytan Morgenstern, Zore’s director of communications. “We’re selling to gun owners and they have to understand why it works.”

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These companies are getting “swept up in the general prohibition on advertising firearms,” said Chuck Rossi, a former engineering director at Facebook.

“All of them are eligible for ads, but it’s a constant battle to get their ads through,” he said.

A Google spokeswoman said its advertising policy “specifically exempts and allows gun parts that increase the safety of a gun, such as gun locks” and encourages advertisers to appeal if they believe they are wrongly blocked.

A Facebook spokeswoman said: “People can advertise safety accessories, but we require that these ads are limited to an adults-only audience. We continue to work to improve how we enforce these policies.” Many ads have run successfully and a few were rejected in error for different reasons, she said. Facebook has been in contact with the companies to help them have a smoother experience, she said.

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Both companies have banned ads for guns for years and tightened their policies after recent massacres, like the one in Parkland, Fla., in February 2018.

Bob Chunn, chief marketing officer for Sentinl Inc., which makes fingerprint-activated trigger locks, said when he makes a call to either Facebook or YouTube after an ad has been rejected, employees tell him “it’s probably because of the firearms.” They advise him to remove the image of a gun or the word “gun,” he said.

Google declined to comment on why specific ads have been blocked.

Click here to read more at The Wall Street Journal, where this story was first published.