New York: Social media giant Facebook and mobile message service WhatsApp are increasingly being used to sell weapons like AK-47s and truck-mounted machine guns in war-ravaged Libya, a media report said on Saturday.
The report, based on data collected by the specialist consultancy Armament Research Services (ARES) and commissioned by the Geneva-based Small Arms Survey, pointed out that this dangerous trend was triggered by the fall of Muammar Gaddafi, the quasi-dictator who ruled the African nation for more than 40 years, tech website The Verge said.
Gaddafi tightly controlled the arms trade during his time in power but after he was deposed in 2011, the government’s stockpiles were raided and a black market sprung up, added the report.
According to the ARES data, in the past 18 months, majority of the arms trade constituted handguns and rifles but more advanced armaments were also up for sale.
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ARES director NR Jenzen-Jones was quoted as saying that most weapons were posted on social networks in private and open groups without a price.
According to The New York Times, it found arms for sale on social networks in Syria, Iraq and Yemen as well, adding that these online markets “have been appearing in regions where the Islamic State (IS) has its strongest presence”.
In Libya, among the most dangerous weapons up for sale included shoulder-launched rocket systems, or MANPADs, which pose a great threat to civilian flights. A full anti-aircraft system was found to be available on a social media website for $62,000.