Facebook Marketplace now packed with scammers

Facebook's other problems notwithstanding, its "Marketplace" section—its Craigslist-like classified listings—is now a billion-user benehmoth full of scammers. A Propublica investigation found that fraud is rife under the superficial gloss of security that Facebook appears to provide.

Facebook says it protects users through a mix of automated systems and human reviews. But a ProPublica investigation based on internal corporate documents, interviews and law enforcement records reveals how those safeguards fail to protect buyers and sellers from scam listings, fake accounts and violent crime. … The social media giant's shortcomings in overseeing the service have made it easier for fraudsters to perpetrate a litany of scams. Internal Marketplace documents, law enforcement bulletins from multiple countries and media reports describe frauds involving lottery numbers, puppies, apartment rentals, PlayStation 5 and Xbox gaming consoles, work visas, sports betting, loans, outdoor pools, Bitcoin, auto insurance, event tickets, vaccine cards, male enhancement products, miracle beauty creams, vehicle sales, furniture, tools, shipping containers, Brazilian rainforest land and even egg farms, among other enterprises. Scammers target both buyers and sellers, resulting in financial losses, hacked Facebook accounts and stolen personal information.

My hot take: Facebook Marketplace built a reputation for safety by making local cash-in-hand transactions (i.e. the Craigslist UX) more trustworthy than the incumbent, then substituted that with mail order transactions (i.e. the Ebay UX) which are less trustworthy than the incumbent. And the Facebook Marketplace now forecfully pushes users to do distance/mail transactions instead of local ones. It always reverts to it in searches.

The co-author of the Propublica report, Craig Silverman, remarked today that he's now getting phone calls from Facebook Marketplace victims because his name comes up when you search for it. Facebook, of course, does not offer phone support.

I was going to say it was another example of moderation-at-scale failing, too, but they're barely bothering at all beyond cutting fat checks to consultants: a billion users moderated by 400 "low-paid" contractors working for Irish consulting firm Accenture.

Speaking of Craigslist, the stories about Facebook being "safer" were just last year. But the table seems to be turning: with CL you at least know you're in the Wild West. The chart below, though, should be measured against Facebook's larger userbase.