Remove the panel on the inside of the tailgate. You will find the plastic attachment pieces are broken that attach the bars to the mechanism are broken. Available and inexpensive at Ford. Also keep all the linkage and moving parts lubed for smooth operation.
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I am not quite sure, but on the sides of the tailgate, where it locks, can't you push the mechanism back? I think you can. It either turns them from latch to open. You can try this. See if you can push it into lock mode.
The latch or handle? both will need you to take the bezzel off from around the handle on the tailgate. Careful but dont feel bad if it breaks 9/10 will usually. Then there will be 2 rods coming from each latch connected with a snap over plastic clip carefully move those off the rods and now the rods can be removed. If it is the handle you are replacing then unbolt from the backside and change. If it is the latches unbolt from the sides and it will slide out of the handle opening. Steve
You must remove the handle from the gate, this is done by removing the plastic tail-gate guard. On in side of gate are some torx screws , remove screws and gate guard will come off. Then there are some more torx screws to remove steel acess pannel, the tail-gate handel will be held in place by 2 10 mm nuts . After removal of nuts the handle will come out, inspect handle for brakeage or rust. replace if nessesary.