Militant “friends” posting weapons for sale on Facebook

Militant “friends” posting weapons for sale on Facebook

Facebook trying to shut down weapon sales on service.

Apparently is isn’t all that difficult for terrorist groups to get their hands on grenades and guided missiles, according to an article in the New York Times.  Just find them on Facebook.

According to the article, The Times provided Facebook with seven examples of “suspicious groups” leading the company to shut down six of the pages.  Facebook recently announced a ban on the sales of private weapons through postings, but some have been showing up in areas in which the Islamic State in noted to have strong presence.

The findings of the article were based on research done by a private consultancy, Armament Research Services (ARES), which looked at arms trafficking across social media platforms in Libya, and The Times own reporting on similar sources in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

Weapons that have been displayed for sale include machine guns on mounts, designed for use against aircraft, along with guided anti-tank missiles and shoulder-fired heat-seeking antiaircraft missiles.

Nic R. Jenzen-Jones, the director of ARES, and an author on the report, said the sophisticated weapons make up only a small portion of the total apparent arms trafficking network, adding most customers prefer a quite large assortment of handguns and infantry weapons.  The infantry rifles are predominately Kalashnikov assault rifles, commonly used by militants throughout the region.

Monika Bickert, a former federal prosecutor who is responsible for developing and enforcing the company’s content standards for Facebook, says all of these type solicitations are in violation of the company’s ban on the private sales of firearms and other type weapons.

“When Facebook began, there was no way to really engage in commerce on Facebook,” commented Bickert.  But the company has added services through its Messenger service which has been used to process payments, and certain groups have found a way to use it in spite of the ban.

“Since we were offering features like that, we thought we wanted to make clear that this is not a site that wants to facilitate the private sales of firearms,” added Bickert.

Though the majority of the trafficking occurs in areas where the Islamic State is active, Facebook spokesperson, Christine Chen, said the company is relying on the 1.6 billion users of their services to report offenders.  “We urge everyone who sees violations to report them to us,” she said.

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