The equestrian community is fighting back after Facebook’s recent crackdown on the sale of horses on its site.

The social network has a long-standing policy stating that horses and other animals are not to be sold on its platform, but for many years there has been little regulation of the rule.

However, in recent months a number of adverts have been taken down by Facebook, leaving private and professional sellers frustrated.

The policy states that items, products and services sold on Facebook must comply with its commerce policy, which prohibits the sale of certain items including animals.

Petitions and protest groups have been launched including “Get Facebook to Rescind the Ban on Animal Sale Posts”, which has over 33,900 signatures.

The petition was launched by Russell Mcpherson and will be delivered to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.

“Facebook has banned animal for sale adverts, it will cause more horses to be slaughtered and dogs and cats to be dumped,” he claimed.

“Small, reputable breeders and farmers will lose their primary place to market their animals to good homes, forcing them to turn to high risk alternatives like auctions.

“But the puppy mills and the irresponsible breeders will continue as they always have, making money off the uninformed.”

Numerous protest groups also operate on Facebook, including “Horse Sales/Revoke FB Ban”, which has more than 12,600 members.

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“This closed group is to provide a united voice to Facebook related to the positive effect that Facebook and the horse industry have on each other,” said a group spokesman.

Fellow Facebook group “Animal sales ads should continue on Facebook” also calls for change.

“Facebook has been a significant outlet for support and sales for breeders and sellers of all species of animals,” said a group spokesman. “This group is formed to show Facebook the subscribers wish to have these adverts continue.”

Supporter Denis Kinchen said that despite the inconsistency of Facebook’s enforcement of the ban, it is happening and is “just a matter of time” before more sellers are targeted.

“This affects a huge segment of the global economy, hundreds of millions of individuals globally and the benefit and welfare of an unimaginable number of animals across the species spectrum,” she said.

When contacted by H&H Facebook confirmed that when reported, offending posts would be removed for breaking content policies.