Sellers use ‘Stickers’ as a new disguise for second-hand firearms on Facebook Marketplace

Since its launch in 2016, Facebook Marketplace has remained a hub where sellers list their second-hand firearms, ammunition, drugs, etc. Although Facebook’s Community Standards are clearly against listing such items and it prohibits private individual selling of any such items, but recently, The Wall Street Journal reported that sellers are using a new disguise to sell guns on Facebook Marketplace. They are disguising advertisements for Glocks and semi-automatic firearms by listing them as ‘stickers’ on the Facebook Marketplace.

These sellers would post listings saying, ".040 sticker" or "great little sticker, 22 inches," and set the price in hundreds of dollars. Stickers cannot be so expensive! But even then, when someone would click on the ad, it continued to show them that the ad was about stickers, but the seller would then send a direct message to the interested buyers. In these messages, these sellers would then reveal that the ads were basically about a .40 caliber Glock or .22 semi-automatic rifle!

The report says that Facebook’s algorithm fails to understand and continues suggesting the deceitful ads listing as ‘stickers’ when the users click on them. One user flagged one such listing but Facebook did not even take any notice, let alone taking down the listing!

This report also came in response to several complaints by prominent lawmakers who called on Facebook to stop selling guns through the platform. Weirdly, Facebook does not look into this matter carefully or promptly enough, because this is not the first time that such a thing has happened on Facebook Marketplace. Last year only, sellers were listing empty gun cases on Marketplace, but when prospective buyers clicked on those listings, these sellers would send them messages revealing that they were actually selling firearm and not just innocuous gun cases!

On the other hand, Facebook does claim that they remove all such flagged listings as selling these items is strictly against the rules. But maybe they should be slightly more efficient and pro-active in taking these steps.

Not only guns or other firearms, Facebook Marketplace has even seen listings for drugs, animals, adult services, fake designer goods, and explosives. So, although Facebook keeps saying that action will be taken against these sellers and thorough investigation will be done, it happens so often that it seems unlikely for Facebook to be ever able to control this problem.

Read next: Facebook introduces a new system to estimate the uncertainty in human-generated decisions to improve its community standards
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