Facebook Groups has inadvertently allowed online weapon trading throughout the social network, mostly used in the Middle East. The so-called ‘arms bazaars’ gained a rapid expansion when people discovered it presented the perfect tool to sell weapons on the Internet.
Given that Facebook has a massive client network across the globe, the social media company set to delete such groups as quickly as it could. Thanks to a report describing several Facebook Groups dedicated to trading weapons online provided by Times Magazine, Facebook was able to shut down the groups.
Establishing the groups focused on selling weapons through Facebook was based on a study from the Armament Research Services (ARES), in order to help the social media company prevent more weapons to be sold through its website. The research from ARES showed significant indicators of online weapon trades, mostly focused in Libya.
Yet Times Magazine wanted to make a solid report as it also based the statement on weapon trades across Iraq, Syria and Yemen. The online weapon bazaars found in Facebook until recently, made the trading of weaponry possible, including grenades, assault rifles, handguns and even rocket propelled grenades (RPGs).
Although its obvious that Facebook didn’t intend for people to sell weapons when it released the new Facebook Groups feature, the company will think twice before releasing a feature that enables any sort of online trading. Especially if the trading is focused on heavy weaponry, notes Facebook.
Facebook’s strategy against online weapon trades
As the social network has stepped up its efforts to eradicate these gun-selling groups, Facebook users are greatly encouraged to report any violation on the Facebook Groups. On an interview following the company’s reaction on the online weapon market Facebook unintentionally created, a spokeswoman claimed that selling firearms is completely against the company’s Community Standards.
The spokeswoman for Facebook also mentioned that any content where gun trading is reported would be removed as soon as the company is notified. This makes collaboration from Facebook users a significant factor in order to eradicate these groups from the Internet.
According to ARES, most of the weapon sales that occurred before Facebook was aware of the online firearms’ trading took place in countries known for Islamic State’s activity.
Worryingly enough, ARES accounted over 6,000 weapon trades reported across the Middle East. Nevertheless, Facebook has made clear that the company’s intention was way far from selling weapons on the Internet, and condemns all trades including firearms.