Facebook Encourages Reporting of Illicit Trade of Antiques and Artworks

Last year Facebook removed 49 accounts of groups suspected of being linked to illegal trade of antiquities. The move was in connection with investigations conducted by the BBC. Currently, antiquities watchdog group ATHAR, has sounded alarms about the increasing smuggling activities of heritage objects and/ or antiquities.

Facebook in turn, is encouraging FB users to report any site showing posts that indicate the illegal trade of heritage objects, including artefacts and antiquities.

ATHAR Cites Drivers of Illegal Trade of Antiquities

Researchers of the Antiquities Trafficking and Heritage Anthropology Research (ATHAR) Project discovered numerous posts of photographs that show actual acts of looting. It was explained that the move intends to send signals to potential buyers about the availability of authentic heritage objects and artefacts. Other photos shared are of excavation sites; the purpose of which is to gather additional information about the potential richness of that chosen dig site.


Katie Paul, co-director of the ATHAR Project cites the combination of three current drivers that have been causing the rise in illegal trade of artefacts and antiquities.

The first is the advent of spring, being the ideal weather condition for carrying out illicit excavation projects.

The second is the growth of global access to Internet, which has made museums and archaeological dig sites more vulnerable to looters.

The third and last, according to Ms. Paul, is the rise in unemployment as a result of the ongoing lockdown measures by governments throughout the globe.

Moreover, the groups involved in the illegal selling and buying of antique ceramics and coins trade in the same black-market sites involved in the smuggling and illegal trading Personal Protection Equipment (PPE).

Juice land, the website sponsoring this art news article, supports the ATHAR Projects’ call for government leaders and operators of social media platforms to implement stricter policies aimed at preventing the selling and buying of heritage objects, artefacts and antiquities, online.