Facebook’s Black Marketplace Glitch

Facebook this week had it’s own version of “Cyber Monday.” Introducing the Facebook Marketplace on the mobile app in the morning, by sundown, the company was issuing apologies.

Marketplace was launched to allow friends and strangers to buy and sell things similar to CraigsList, LetGo or OfferUp. You know, things like couches, old DVDs and gently used clothing.

Apparently some users were posting things that even the most notorious black markets in history didn’t swap.

Babies, illegal drugs, firearms, sexual services, dogs and other small animals. All of which are against the Marketplace policy.

According to Mary Ku, a director for product management at Facebook, the reason those items were posted for sale was due to a technical glitch had prevented the company from identifying posts violating the policy. She apologized for the issue and explained that Facebook is working to fix the problem and will be removing violations in the meantime.

The original use of the Marketplace was intended to allow items to be bought and sold, since Facebook realized that, according to Mary Ku, “more than 450 million people visit buy and sell groups each month.” Selling and buying through groups violates the Facebook commerce policy, which happens a lot.

Web designer Mike Monteiro started a campaign this summer to monitor the social network for sales of guns. He says he noticed more than 500 posts or groups violating Facebook’s policy in July, but the site only took down about two-thirds of them.

To some, the Marketplace platform seems like a natural progression of Facebook’s offerings. Allowing to see who is selling something and if you know them or have a friend in common helps commerce, some people ay.

But others are not so sure about the Marketplace addition. Former executive at Yahoo, Dan Rosensweig, told CNBC that he wouldn’t leave Amazon or eBay to go to Facebook. Unless, he said, he could sell or buy more on the platform.

Still, Marketplace is expanding. It’s currently only a available to certain users depending on where they live, but Facebook says it will be available widespread over the next few months.


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