Facebook opened its Marketplace feature to users on Monday. And when has the internet let you down by not letting you down? Pretty soon, people started noticing that the Craigslist-esque forum was quickly being filled by listings that ranged from somewhat bizarre to downright illegal. Listings were selling everything ranging from babies, guns, drugs to even pointless items like water without the bottle.
Facebook claims to have guidelines in place to prevent posts about prohibited items in the Marketplace and is blaming a technical issue for the failure to enforce the same, without revealing any further details. This controversial start may not bode well for Facebook’s latest foray into commerce in the form of hyperlocal listings.
While Facebook is working on the fix and most spam listings have been taken care of, reports of an occasional illegal listing are not that uncommon. Such listings are being dealt with on a case by case basis. Since the items are listed publicly, it shouldn’t really be difficult to remove them as we have seen online buyer-seller marketplaces do that previously. And this is not Facebook’s first tryst with the platform being used for illegal commerce.
Public posts such as the ones on the marketplace are easy to spot. Something that Facebook has been having trouble with is hidden private groups that continue to trade in guns and other illegal items despite Facebook policies against them? But when Facebook is entering the ‘marketplace’ in a full-fledged manner, replacing and competing against established hyperlocal marketplaces, it should at least make sure that the content on its platform is regulated.
While most consumers have expressed that they wouldn't buy directly from Facebook, the commercial aspects and even direct buy-sell listings on groups indicate a greater tendency of Facebook users to shop on the platform compared to other social networks. This increases Facebook’s responsibility to providing a safe marketplace to its users.
If you are looking for the Marketplace on your profile and cannot find it, it might be because Facebook has been rolling it out gradually over different areas. The feature is hitting mobile apps first, with the desktop update due in a few months.