Facebook’s Marketplace has immediately been flooded with people selling guns, drugs and baby hedgehogs.
The company has been forced to apologise after its brand new feature – intended to let people sell things in the same way as they would through Ebay or Craiglist – has already been flooded with illegal items, those that break rules, and others that are just odd.
As well as offering illegal items like drugs, some users appeared to be selling things that are banned by Facebook’s own terms, like snakes and hedgehogs. And other early users reported that The new Marketplace feature is meant as a way of letting people buy and sell things to others in their local area. It is relatively unrestricted – letting people easily add items for sale and allowing them to deal with the actual delivery and payment of items themselves – but Facebook is still keeping a number of rules about what can actually be sold on there.
The company said that it would be working hard to ensure that banned items aren’t sold on the new Marketplace. But something had gone wrong with the system that is meant to do so, it said.
Facebook said in a statement: “As we expanded Marketplace access, we encountered a technical issue that prevented our reviewing system from identifying some posts that violated our commerce policies and community standards.
“As a result, certain posts with content that violated our policies were made visible to people visiting Marketplace.
“We are working to fix the problem and will be closely monitoring our systems to ensure we are properly identifying and removing violations before giving more people access to Marketplace. We apologise for this issue.”
As well as the automated systems, Facebook has said that it hopes the feature is kept safe because people on the site use their real names and identities.
The company said that at launch 450 million people are members of buying and selling groups, and that the new feature was built as a way of making that process easier for users.