Crime and Investigation

The Dark Side of Social Media: How Illegal Glock Switches Use in Rifle are Thriving on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter

Glock Switches

An Instagram user posted a picture of 16 “Glock switches” for sale more than one year ago, prompting a police investigator in Garland, Texas, to contact his federal counterparts at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF). As a simple, yet deadly – and illegal – addition to the most popular hand gun in America, these Lego-sized devices are perfect for a variety of handguns.

In a matter of seconds, these mechanical switches transform a handgun into a fully automatic weapon capable of firing dozens of bullets, much faster than military-issued firearms. No matter whether these switches are attached to a weapon or not, according to the ATF, they are illegal as they are “classified as machine gun under federal law.” (In the United States, civilians cannot possess machine guns made after 1986.)

Source: Facebook, according to

On Instagram, Facebook, Telegram, and Twitter, at least 15 people have been selling Glock switches and auto sears, an AR-15 assault rifle add-on similar to Glock switches. Forbes was unable to find any accounts actively advertising Glock switches on Snap, despite three federal court cases referring to people selling Glock switches on Snap.

The terms of service of Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Telegram, and Snap all prohibit weapons transactions.

A trend that has alarmingly increased in recent years has been noticed by law enforcement and prosecutors nationwide: illegal switches are being seized and prosecuted in record numbers. (Some have even brought cases involving “auto sears,” the counterpart device that turns an AR-15 semi-automatic weapon into a fully automatic firearm.)

Between 2017 and 2021, federal prosecutions of such devices jumped from 10 to 83, according to VICE News and The Trace, an online investigative journalism website.

The two Facebook groups selling Glock switches – located simply by searching for the phrase “Glock switch” – were removed from Facebook after Forbes notified Meta.

Upon reviewing the Facebook Groups and Instagram accounts flagged to us, Ryan Daniels, a company spokesperson, emailed Forbes, “we removed them for violating our Community Standards.” As a result of our questions, Meta did not respond to Forbes, instead pointing us to public policies already on its website. Facebook and Instagram groups are still active.

Forbes asked Elon Musk for comment, but Twitter’s email account for journalists responded with a poop emoji.

According to Snap spokesperson Pete Boogaard, selling weapons is “explicitly prohibited.”

“We remove this type of content quickly when it is discovered, and we take action against people who violate it, including potentially deleting their accounts,” he said.

Telegram spokesperson Remi Vaughn said selling weapons and other types of “harmful content” is not permitted.

“Moderators remove such content by proactive monitoring of public areas of our platform and by accepting user reports,” he wrote in a Telegram message.

Law enforcement and prosecutors told Forbes they would like to see tech firms do more to mitigate harms caused by the sale of such devices.

Source: Facebook, according to

Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia told Forbes: “The platforms must take responsibility. This is just another issue that my officers face. The fact of the matter is that we are outgunned. Dealing with the criminal element, we are outgunned. My officers do not have Glocks.”

The ATF has seized nearly 800 such switches in the metropolitan area in 2022 alone, Garcia told Forbes last December. In an eight second video posted on Twitter, he demonstrated the destructive power of these devices and the risk they pose to the civilian population and to his own officers.

For many years, social media sites have been hard-pressed to handle ads for firearms and similar items. Back in 2016, Facebook prohibited the sale or exchange of guns and bullets on its platform, however users discovered ways to avoid the ban. Twitter has a universal prohibition of paid commercials for weapons and corresponding attachments. Forbes uncovered accounts where users were urged to contact Glock switch shoppers promptly with “HMU free shipping”. It was only recently that a Telegram account was taken down which had declared itself as “the most widely used Glock Switch distributor in the United States”.

According to Ted Matherly, a professor of marketing at Northeastern University who has researched firearm sales, it should be relatively easy to block users from searching for “glock switch,” much as searching for illegal narcotics for sale does not give results.

As far as these things are known to be illegal, they have a mandate from society to limit their proliferation, he said. “This is trivially easy to restrict.”

Source: Facebook, according to

Experts say that sometimes the switches are manufactured domestically using 3D printing, while other times they are imported, mostly from China or the Philippines.

Two years prior, a devastating tragedy involving a Houston police officer and an illegally-equipped handgun occurred. Despite this, the sale and import of such devices is on the rise. An individual in Illinois was recently indicted for importing 10 of these switches from China and in North Carolina, another person was handed down nearly three years of imprisonment due to having nearly 100 switches in his possession. In response to this, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) introduced legislation last month desiring increased federal collaboration and enforcement regarding the matter.

In his opinion, social media companies need to do more to proactively detect such images and discussions, according to David Chipman, who worked at the ATF for over 23 years.

I think they have a responsibility to find a way to deal with this issue,” he told Forbes. “I challenge them in this case to do more.”

According to him, they don’t want people to be shot with devices purchased through their platforms.

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CEO & Editor
I'm Ved Prakash, Founder & Editor @Newsblare Media, specialised in Business and Finance niches who writes content for reputed publication such as,, Motley Fool Singapore, etc. I'm the contributor of different... news sites that have widened my views on the current happenings in the world.


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