Facebook stops the sale of Amazon rainforest land on its Marketplace

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Image Courtesy: Mongabay

You may be surprised to learn that you can sell land on Facebook Marketplace and  that individuals were trying to sell Amazon rainforest land on Marketplace.  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 statement follows a BBC investigation into its Marketplace in February, which discovered people illegally selling vast tracts of land in the Brazilian Amazon jungle on Facebook’s Craigslist equivalent. The BBC discovered that the plots were regularly sold without a formal land title indicating ownership, owing to the deforestation of the Amazon caused by the Brazilian cattle business.

Initially, Facebook did not wish to intervene directly to halt the unlawful sale of land in the Amazon because “commerce principles require buyers and sellers to comply with laws and regulations,” the firm told the BBC in February. After several months (and controversies), Facebook is taking a stricter approach. “Listings may not encourage the purchase or sale of animals or animal products, or land in ecological protection zones,” according to Facebook’s revised policy. In addition, the firm intends to cross-reference postings with a database of protected land to identify anybody who breaches its rules.

Even if it is delayed, the shift is eventually beneficial. It’s simply the time that’s unusual. Facebook has recently battled with stolen research, a whistleblower aggressively calling out the company’s alleged hypocrisy, and a huge worldwide outage. Stopping the sale of the Amazon rainforest is simply the odd icing on top of Facebook’s shaky, multi-week cake.