Arms and Ammunition Sale on Facebook

By : |April 7, 2016 0

A new study by the Small Arms Survey suggests there is a growing market in the illegal trade of guns and weapons in Libya via social media sites.

The research covered 18 months and found sales of a wide range of weapons – from handguns to rocket-propelled grenades, across sites, including Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and Telegram, and found the largest volume of sales on Facebook, reports BBC Africa. Most of the sales were transacted through “closed” or “secret” Facebook groups.

CIOL Arms and Ammunition Sale on Facebook

The illicit sale of guns is a violation of Facebook’s terms of service, and a spokesperson said they encourage people to report any such postings. The report used data collected by Armament Research Services (ARES) on a total of 1,346 sales and researchers believe this is just a trailer of the full trade taking place on social media.

Col Gaddafi, the deposed leader of Libya who died in 2011, was a compulsive buyer of arms and tightly controlled the market. During his 40 years in power, it is estimated he spent more than $30bn (£20bn) on arms.When rebel forces toppled his regime, the stockpiles were thrown open and a large black market emerged. Researchers believe the trade on social media began to take off in 2013 and is still growing.

“While the bulk of the traded [items] were traditional small arms – handguns through to self-loading rifles and machine guns – there were also the more significant systems that could have battlefield impacts or terrorist use,” says one of the report authors NicJenzen-Jones from ARES.

“Manpads are shoulder-launched anti-aircraft systems. We found a number of complete systems listed, but also individual components… They’re not really functional against modern fighter aircraft, but the great threat is to civilian aviation,” he added.

According to the report big cities like Tripoli, Benghazi and Sabratha see the most number of arms sales. The trade is a mixture of militia buying arms to fight, and militia disposing of them because they are no longer needed.

In a statement, a Facebook spokesperson said: “It’s against Facebook’s Community Standards to coordinate private sales of firearms, and we remove any such content as soon as we become aware of it. We encourage people to use the reporting links found on our site so that our team of experts can review content swiftly.”

Researchers believe this is mostly an internal trade within Libya. However, there have been concerns raised by the European police agency, Europol, over the number of weapons entering Europe from Libya.

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