Strange loophole means buying and selling human bones is not technically illegal

When we go on Facebook Marketplace, we're probably expecting to find loads of random objects on sale, but a thriving market of human remains might be the most bizarre thing you may come across.

Many accounts on social media sites, including Facebook and Instagram, have found to be actively selling human bones like skulls, according to a Live Science report.

The report suggests that nothing seems to be off-limits on the online human remains with everything from human skulls pierced by coffin nails to bones turned into Ouija board pieces on offer.

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Here's everything we need to know about the human remains trade market and whether it's actually legal to trade bones.

Is it illegal to sell human bones on social media?

Buying and selling human remains isn't actually illegal in the UK, as long as the body parts sold aren't used for transplants and used only for decoration. Similarly, it's not technically illegal in the US either as as long as they're not Native American remains.

Facebook, Instagram as well as some open platforms are online hubs for this disturbing trade that's booming in the UK.

Remains of adults, children, babies and even foetuses can be found in the marketplace.

Some of the bones have even been disfigured or modified for selling purposes, including a skull carved and turned into a lamp with the words "kill me" etched into it.

While not technically illegal, the booming business does raise questions about whether people whom the bones belonged would have consented to be traded or their skeletons being modified.

"Nobody consents to having their body bought and sold," digital archaeologist Shawn Graham told Live Science.

The human remains trade also has links to grave robbing and it's also illegal to disturb a place where someone has been formally laid to rest without a licence.

Does social media allow sale of human bones?

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The popular of human bone trading on Facebook and Instagram is surprising considering that Meta prohibits the sale of such objects on its platforms.

Meta said: "We’ve removed the violating content brought to our attention and will continue to remove content in line with our policies."

Despite the company's statement, many profiles selling human bones still appear to be active on the platform.

In fact, Live Science reports that there have been 50 human remains sellers across England and Wales using Facebook and Instagram for their trade between 2020 and 2022.

While some sellers offer the remains on private Facebook groups, many others have offered multiple human remains through public Facebook and Instagram pages linked to antiques, oddities and taxidermy businesses.


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