The illegal gun trade in Libya booms on Facebook

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Terrorists and illegal arms dealers in war-torn Libya are selling guns using an app often used to post baby pictures and keep in touch with classmates
By Jason Spencer | Apr 08, 2016
What do you use Facebook for? The majority of us would say to stay in touch with long-distance friends and get reminders of family gatherings. But across the world there's a darker side to Facebook.

According to, missiles, grenade launchers, anti-aircraft guns, and machine guns have been available for illegal purchase in Libya via Facebook since September 2014. The country has been in a state of political turmoil since it's removal of leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, leading to a power struggle that was only worsened when ISIS rolled in.

The Ares Armament Research Center (ARES), who put out the initial report, looked into a variety of online sales ranging from small to larger firearms. What ARES released only covers a fraction of the information they collected, with a full report set for public release later this year.

"We're interested in understanding the mechanics of the illicit arms trade," said ARES director N.R. Jenzen-Jones, ARES director. "The Hollywood notion of planes full of guns being rapidly unloaded is rare. It happens on a limited basis, but typically these weapons are diverted from the authorized trade."

PC Magazine adds the current reports have noted groups have posted between 200-300 advertisements per month in Libya, with additional sales taking place where the Islamic State has a strong hold on the region.

And while six major Facebook groups that partake in dealing weapons have been shut down, Facebook urges users to report groups if they come across such content.

"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," said a spokesperson. "We encourage people to use the reporting links found across our site so that our team of experts can review content swiftly."


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