Guns disguised as cases for sale on Facebook Marketplace

Occurred: August 2019

Gunsellers were found to be secretly posting assault rifles and other guns for sale on Facebook Marketplace by disguising them as posts for gun cases or empty boxes.

The practice was spotted by the Wall Street Journal, who discovered over-priced cases listed in several US states. When contacted, sellers revealed that the sale price included the firearm that belongs to the case. 

The practice is in defiance of Facebook's ban on the sale of private guns and ammunition. Facebook uses a combination of artificial intelligence and human moderators to police sales on Marketplace, calling into question the workings and effectiveness of its system.

Operator: Meta/Facebook
Developer: Meta/Facebook
Country: USA
Sector: Technology
Purpose: Moderate content
Technology: Content moderation system
Issue: Accuracy/reliability
Transparency: Governance; Black box

Page info
Type: Incident
Published: August 2019
Last updated: December 2023