An investigation into the black markets operating on Facebook has claimed that looted skulls and other human remains are a thriving online business, despite both the legal and moral implications.
According to Live Science, an investigation into the human remains-focused black markets showed a seedy underbelly to a website more often known for its social networking. A vast majority of the groups were private, meaning only those accepted could see what items were for sale.
One example was a skull that was reported to have been stolen in 2013 from the Sousse catacombs — an ancient necropolis in Tunisia that holds some of the oldest Christian burials in the world. The seller, based in the state of Washington, openly admitted to stealing a skull with a "very dark ancient patina" and was offering the piece for $550.
Though the origin of the skull might be worrying, arguably worse were the items that had vague or no information about the source. For example, the remains of fetuses, infants and children are particularly popular despite the fact that few details are given about how these remains came to be available for sale.
One seller was offering the skull of a "young teen female" for $1,300. Though the seller claimed that the skull was legally acquired and could provide the proper documentation, no other information was given about the skull — including whether or not the girl's death had come from a criminal act.
The investigation found hundreds of other items that included human remains. Many of them consisted of parts of almost fully formed fetuses in jars — many of which were labeled as "scientific specimens."
Other examples were novelty items that somehow had human remains incorporated into them, such as a human skin-bound book or a knife with a human bone handle. Investigators even found some elongated Peruvian head skulls that were available for sale, which experts have claimed were almost certainly robbed from burial sites.
"Because commerce on the internet and on social media is so poorly regulated, it's literally like the Wild West with no sheriffs," explained Gretchen Peters, co-founder of the Alliance to Counter Crime Online, an organization fighting crime and corruption.
Facebook currently has a policy that bans the sale of human remains on the site. Since the article detailed the number of black markets flourishing through the company, a number have been shut down. However, Live Science noted that many are still in operation.
The report comes as the tech giant has been under fire regarding its stance on hate speech. As was previously reported by The Inquisitr, CEO Mark Zuckerberg has lost $7 billion due to ongoing boycotts protesting Facebook's policies.