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Terrorists Sell Looted Antiquities on Facebook

The trafficking of looted antiquities and art has reached unprecedented levels in some of the world’s most vulnerable and conflicted places. Social media has accelerated what was once a human-based illicit trade. Platforms like Facebook have become the ground-zero for traders, traffickers, and even terrorists to connect and move priceless antiquities globally. Pieces of history are openly trafficked on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp. Terrorist organizations and criminal groups use these looted antiquities to fund their activities. Smugglers and dealers are selling stolen cultural property in Facebook Groups composed of tens of thousands of individuals from around the world – including the United States and Europe.

 

Platforms like Facebook provide a one-stop-shop for sharing photos, video, bidding on items, and private communication – all with the added veil of anonymity that social media provides. Groups numbering up to 150,000 members allow traffickers to reach an unprecedented number of customers on a local and global scale. The true scale of the illicit online antiquities trade is not yet understood, however social media use has grown rapidly across the Middle East and North Africa in recent years, particularly in areas wrought with conflict. Facebook and WhatsApp are the most popular social media platforms in the Arab World. This fact sheet collates data that illustrates social media’s impact on the global antiquities trade.

Facebook Makes It Easier Than Ever to Traffic Middle Eastern Antiquities

A year long investigation by ATHAR identified multiple Facebook Groups and Pages trafficking in illicit antiquities from the Middle East.

Social Media Teaches DIYers How to Loot Antiquities

A Facebook page created in 2016 to crowdsource information on how to do your own illegal excavation has attracted more than 50,000 members in a year.

Middle East Antiquities Trafficking Enters the Digital Age

Social media is making it easier than ever for regular people to loot and sell antiquities.

Facebook Makes It Easier Than Ever to Traffic Middle Eastern Antiquities

A year long investigation by ATHAR identified multiple Facebook Groups and Pages trafficking in illicit antiquities from the Middle East.