Facebook is now investigating charges that numerous people are using private groups in order to sell and solicit human remains. The products include fetal remains, skulls, and mummified six-year-old child that lived back in the 1700s.
The social media platform has a policy that bans any buying and selling of human body parts of fluids. Some Facebook users seem to have found a way to go around the prohibition by taking advantage of the private group feature of the platform.
The hundreds of remains that are posted on the groups are said to have come from historical or archaeological sites from different countries. One user posted a human skull in which he or she claimed to have been looted from the catacombs at Sousse, Tunisia.
The skull was posted for $550. The illegal and private groups on Facebook were discovered and investigated by LiveScience.
The news site spent more than 10 months going through the postings and listings and putting the items into a catalog to know what types of items were listed and requested by the members of the group.
Legal experts have warned that these types of practices are categorized as criminal under both US and international law. It is also a threat to governmental and academic efforts to preserve artifacts at archaeological and historical sites around the world.
Ryan Seidemann and Christine Halling, from the Office of Louisiana's Attorney General in the Lands and Natural Resources Section Civil Division, jointly said that they doubt that any person, even those who donated the remains for science, wanted to be a personal curio for someone.
Seidemann and Halling also said that the human remains that are being sold and bought are from burials or tombs. The deceased wanted their remains to stay in their place of rest and the violation of the intent just to seek possessing or owning the remains of the deceased is both illegal and an ethical violation.
According to The DailyMail, the investigation documented a massive range of listings, and it included one user attempting to sell a mummified six-year-old child for $12,247.
The listing claims that the mummified child dated back to the 1700s. Meanwhile. one seller listed a human skull for $1,300, claiming that it had come from a female teenager but the user did not offer other information on the origin of the skull.
Another listing stated that the skull originated from Peru, it was listed for $10,500. The listing looked very similar to elongated skulls that were discovered in Peru back in 2014.
The skull is believed to have come fro a group of hunter-gatherers who lived around 2,000 years ago. The whole process of elongated skull involves tying wooden bracing devices or cloths around the head of a child in order to force it to grow into an elongated shape.
Another group user listed fetal remains that are placed and preserved in a jar that the user is selling for $2,350. The user claimed that it was a retired medical specimen.
Another user listed an almost full-term fetus for $6,495. The seller of the fetus claims that the mother wanted the specimen to be preserved and to help educate the public about the functions of the human body.
In the past few years, other illegal markets that buy and sell human organs and remains have emerged slowly on Instagram and eBay, prompting new fears that social medial platforms and online marketplaces might help commercializes something that is considered as rare and hidden practice.
According to NewsWeek, Facebook has still not made any official statements about the company's investigation of the illegal private groups. As of today, three illegal groups have been shut down but the reasons behind it were not disclosed.