On October 24th, 2020, an art trafficker in Darnah, Libya posted a series of unusual ads. For sale: a Greco-Roman statue, its marble bust covered in a toga. If it looked like it belonged in a museum, that’s because it did. The seller posted photos of the piece in private Facebook groups dedicated to trafficking antiques.
The black market for looted goods is flourishing on Facebook. While the company banned the sale of historical artifacts in June, many of the posts are in Arabic, and Facebook lacks the expertise to properly enforce its new policy.
When Facebook is able to identify groups that flout its guidelines, experts say the company simply deletes them, expunging crucial documentation for researchers studying stolen art. “This is critical evidence for repatriation efforts and war crimes,” says Katie Paul, co-director of the Athar Project. “Facebook has created a problem