Facebook Illegal Trade: Experts Call To Address Issue

The experts who had been tracking the online crime had urged the United States prosecutors to address the Facebook illegal trade of drugs and other goods through its pages. It has been seen that the social media giant had allegedly facilitated the illicit trade amid the ongoing opioid crisis in the U.S.

The Facebook illegal trade is not solely restricted to drugs being traded throughout the website. Unfortunately, Facebook had unwillingly supported the illicit trade of almost everything, including wildlife and antiquities.

However, in an open letter that had been published the last week, the Alliance to Counter Crime Online had stated that their researchers had been conducting daily test searches. They had found out that someone between the age group 13 and 29 via Instagram is able to buy counterfeit pills or narcotics in just less than 10 seconds and for a few clicks. 

Facebook’s own documentation had revealed that over 5.9 million drug deals had been carried on through Facebook illegal trade in just the third quarter of 2020 alone. On the contrary, Facebook had stated that their algorithm had managed to flag 94% of the Facebook posts. This implies that about 3,50,000 posts had not been traced. This untraced number dwarfs the absolute number of sales conducted on the other online platforms that are most commonly associated with the drug trade, like the AlphaBay or Silk Road of the dark web.

In the late earlier year, Facebook had updated its policies for cracking down the antiquities trade. But the experts were much skeptic about the news.

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Image: Wired

“Facebook groups, unlike other encrypted messaging platforms, provide insulated communities where users can share live videos, photos, entire albums, engage through encrypted messaging app, they don’t even have to leave the program to make payments if they want to,” Katie Paul, the co-director of the ATHAR project which is a member of the Alliance to Counter Crime Online, told a news portal in July. “These private groups that are unmoderated by Facebook are a one-stop-shop for criminals.” 

The online antiquities trade monitoring body, ATHAR, had discovered over 120 public and private groups on Facebook that had explicitly conducted antiquities trafficking. The largest of all had more than a quarter-million members receiving thousands of posts each day on the Facebook illegal trade of artefacts and active looting.

“The world’s biggest social media company isn’t just harming society with its monopolistic behavior,” the Alliance concluded in their open letter. “Facebook platforms are a threat to the health and human safety of the American people. It is time to hold the firm and its senior executives accountable.”

Source: OCCRP

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