Since January, the social network has prohibited the sale of firearms, but a new study found that Facebook is rife with online groups dealing heavy arms in countries with a strong Islamic State presence. The study was carried out by the private consultancy Armament Research Services and it was supported with reporting from the New York Times in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen. In total, about 6,000 trades of weapons–including missiles, heavy machine guns, grenade launchers, rockets, anti-matériel rifles, and even a TOW launcher, which is a wire-guided anti-tank missile system–were documented.
When the Times approached Facebook with the findings, detailing seven groups on the site that it said were advertising arms for sale, Facebook promptly removed six of those groups (the company said the seventh group, while showing pictures of arms, strictly forbids their trade). A spokesperson for the company said it will continue to enforce its restriction of selling firearms on Facebook. The spokesperson also noted any Facebook user can click the “Report” button under a post if they think that post violates Facebook’s policies.MG