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Facebook Marketplace rife with banned, recalled products, regulator says

Inside Facebook's shift to Meta
Inside Facebook's shift to Meta 06:24

Facebook's online marketplace is rife with banned and recalled products, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, which is calling on the social media giant to curtail the dangerous listings. 

The agency on Wednesday urged Meta, Facebook's parent company, to use its "considerable resources and technological expertise" to identify and prevent products known to be dangerous from being offered for sale on its site. 

"CPSC staff has found that such consumer products constitute a serious threat to the health and lives of consumers, including infants and toddlers, and are appearing with regular frequency on Facebook Marketplace," CPSC Chair Alex Hoehn-Saric stated in a letter to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg. 

Meta is just one player in the online consumer product resale market, but it makes up a large and growing proportion of product-removal requests by CPSC as it identifies unsafe items for sale online. In 2020, about half of such requests by CPSC were made to Facebook Marketplace, with that percentage jumping to about 75% so far in 2022, Hoehn-Saric stated.

"While Facebook Marketplace currently has policies to stop controlled substances, counterfeit goods and other illegal products from being listed, they are being widely circumvented or ignored with respect to products under the jurisdiction of the CPSC," the agency chair told Zuckerberg. 

Meta defended its enforcement of its policies in an emailed statement.

"We are heavily invested in our approach to safety and have over 40,000 people across Meta working on safety and security, which includes teams proactively enforcing our commerce policies that prohibit the sale of recalled goods," a spokesperson told CBS MoneyWatch in an email. "Like other platforms where people can buy and sell goods, there may be instances of people knowingly or unknowingly selling recalled goods on Marketplace. We take this issue seriously and when we find listings that violate our rules, we remove them." 

Facebook opened its Marketplace section in 2016, and quickly found itself hosting ads offering all sorts of illicit and strange items for sale, in violation of its stated policies. Facebook at the time blamed the rocky rollout on a "technical issue."  

Other retailers including Amazon, eBay and Walmart have in the past also faced criticism after third parties used their platforms to sell objectionable merchandise in violation of the stated rules. 

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