Facebook, citing looting concerns, bans historical artifact sales

The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Facebook, citing looting concerns, bans historical artifact sales
In this file photo taken on August 21, 2019 visitors walk past the "Facebook Gaming" stand at the Video games trade fair Gamescom in Cologne. Ina FASSBENDER / AFP.

by Tom Mashberg

NEW YORK (NYT NEWS SERVICE).- Responding to criticism that its site has become a bazaar for the sale of looted Middle Eastern antiquities, Facebook said on Tuesday it would remove any content “that attempts to buy, sell or trade in historical artifacts.”

The decision came after archaeologists and activists who monitor the illicit antiquities trade said they had identified at least 200 Facebook groups with nearly 2 million members that were using the platform to find black market buyers and to offer tutorials on how best to dig up and deliver the most sought-after items.

Common examples include burial relics, stone sculptures, mosaics and in some instances entire sarcophagi from Syria, Egypt, Iraq and North Africa.

Greg Mandel, public policy manager at Facebook, said, “We’ve long had rules preventing the sale of stolen artifacts.” But, he added, “To keep these artifacts and our users safe, we’ve been working to expand our rules, and starting today, we now prohibit the exchange, sale or purchase of all historical artifacts on Facebook and Instagram.”

The Facebook policy defines historical artifacts as “rare items of significant historical, cultural or scientific value” that include ancient funerary items, coins, tombstones, engraved seals, scrolls and manuscripts.

In many cases, the middlemen running the Facebook groups give real-time instructions to looters on which items to excavate and steal, according to video footage obtained by the Antiquities Trafficking and Heritage Anthropology Research Project, an investigative study project led by antiquities experts.

Katie Paul, co-director of the project, said in an interview: “They literally will post pictures from auction catalogs and say, ‘See, this is how much this stuff can sell for, so go for it guys.’” Online traffickers, she added, will also try to reassure illicit buyers that they are getting genuine items by posting photos or videos showing the objects being unearthed in situ.

Paul said buyers and sellers will use coded language to discuss the antiquities, then move to an encrypted app where they can complete the deal. The Twitter feed for the investigative project she helps direct features screenshots and videos from Facebook pages showing brazen instances of looting and thousands of objects put up for sale.

Paul and her co-director, Amr al-Azm, a professor at Shawnee State University in Ohio, have been capturing images and video from the Facebook groups for several years. In a report last year titled “Facebook’s Black Market in Antiquities,” the pair said, “Facebook has become a sprawling digital black market, facilitating illicit trade in antiquities from across the Middle East and North Africa.”

Paul said Facebook had been slow to admit the problem and lax in policing criminal activity online. “For years, Facebook has served as a massive outlet for antiquities looters and traffickers as they seek to feed material into a widening global network,” she said.

But she said the recent decision by Facebook “represents an important shift in their position on the trade in cultural heritage and demonstrates that they recognize that this is an illegal and harmful activity that is occurring on their platform.” She added, however, that “a policy is only as good as its enforcement.”

Azm said he wants Facebook to preserve all evidence of trafficking rather than simply delete it. “The photos and videos of artifacts we see posted on Facebook, often while still in the ground, may be the only evidence of that object’s existence,” Azm said.

© 2020 The New York Times Company

Today's News

June 26, 2020

When the Louvre reopens, it's going to be quiet

Gallery plunge French boy may never fully recover: UK court told

Phillips announces $10M Basquiat to highlight its 20th Century & Contemporary sale

Eiffel Tower reopens with strict virus restrictions

Facebook, citing looting concerns, bans historical artifact sales

Julie Rodrigues Widholm appointed to lead UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive

Sotheby's to offer the collection of Ambassador and Mrs. Felix Rohatyn across a series of sales this year

Christie's to hold an online sale highlighting the scientific breakthroughs of the 20th century

NSU Art Museum launches online collection with access to over 2,000 works

Museum Tinguely opens an exhibition of works by Pedro Reyes

Artcurial will close the season with its Furniture & Works of Art sale taking place on July 22nd and 23rd

Dutch photographer Bastiaan Woudt's first UK exhibition opens at Atlas Gallery

Charles Ede reopens its gallery space with ancient art due to have been shown at Masterpiece Art Fair

Robert Berry Gallery presents new works by London-based artist Machiko Edmondson

Luce Foundation emergency grants support American art

New sculptures to welcome guests back to The Garden and the Indianapolis Museum of Art this summer

Fine autographs & artifacts featuring animation at July 10 auction

Birmingham Museum of Art announces Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Miner becomes millionaire after finding biggest tanzanite stones

Robert Richardson Jr., biographer of literary giants, dies at 86

We don't have to like them. We just need to understand them.

Christie's and Maggie's announce partnership for online charity auction

Fry visible "Mae West" gas pump gavels for CA$7,800 at Miller & Miller Auctions, Ltd. online sale

RETNA massive painting leads Heritage Auctions' wildly successful Urban Art event

Online Divorce New York │ Why You Should Get One

Plastic parts- Injection molding- All you need to know

A Thread Of Love For Lovely Couple

Museums, Exhibits, Artists, Milestones, Digital Art, Architecture, Photography,
Photographers, Special Photos, Special Reports, Featured Stories, Auctions, Art Fairs,
Anecdotes, Art Quiz, Education, Mythology, 3D Images, Last Week, .


Ignacio Villarreal
(1941 - 2019)
Editor & Publisher: Jose Villarreal
Art Director: Juan José Sepúlveda Ramírez
Writer: Ofelia Zurbia Betancourt

sa gaming free credit
Truck Accident Attorneys
Accident Attorneys

Royalville Communications, Inc

ignaciovillarreal.org juncodelavega.com facundocabral-elfinal.org
Founder's Site. Hommage
to a Mexican poet.

The First Art Newspaper on the Net. The Best Versions Of Ave Maria Song Junco de la Vega Site Ignacio Villarreal Site Parroquia Natividad del Señor
Tell a Friend
Dear User, please complete the form below in order to recommend the Artdaily newsletter to someone you know.
Please complete all fields marked *.
Sending Mail
Sending Successful