You may be surprised to learn that you can sell land on Facebook Marketplace. No? I didn’t either. Did you know that people were trying to sell Amazon rainforest land on Marketplace? I, for one, did not! Selling land in ecological conservation areas is typically illegal and has negative consequences for the flora, fauna, and people who live there, so Facebook announced Friday that it is changing its commerce policies to explicitly prohibit the sale of protected land on Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp.
Facebook’s announcement follows a BBC investigation into its Marketplace in February, which discovered people illegally selling enormous swaths of land in the Brazilian Amazon rainforest on Facebook’s Craigslist competitor. The BBC discovered that the plots were regularly sold without a legal land title indicating ownership, owing to the deforestation of the Amazon caused by the Brazilian cattle business. THE AMAZON IS NO LONGER AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE (ON FACEBOOK)
Initially, Facebook did not wish to intervene unilaterally to stop the unlawful sale of land in the Amazon because “commerce standards require buyers and sellers to comply with laws and regulations,” the firm told the BBC in February. After several months (and scandals), Facebook is taking a tougher position. “Listings may not encourage the purchase or sale of animals or animal products, or land in ecological protection areas,” according to Facebook’s revised policy. In addition, the corporation intends to cross-reference postings with a database of protected land to identify anyone who violates its policy.
Even if it’s delayed, the shift is eventually beneficial. It’s only the time that’s odd. In recent weeks, Facebook has dealt with leaked research, a whistleblower aggressively calling out the company’s alleged hypocrisy and a significant global outage. Stopping the sale of the Amazon rainforest is just a bizarre cherry on top of Facebook’s shaky, multi-week sundae.