Categories: Facebook

Under Covid-19, should Facebook suspend Facebook Marketplace?

Facebook Marketplace. Screenshot.

I am asking a question. I hope Facebook takes note of that and don’t punish me. It is just that Facebook’s Marketplace has 800 million monthly active users according to Facebook as reported by The Times and there is a potential for spreading the virus.

It is reported that items put on sale (in the UK I presume) since the lockdown include more than 1,000 video games, 500 beds and 300 wardrobes.

A lot of cat related items have been added in the last 48 hours such as cat litter, cat tree, cat house and cat bed. It is all the usual cat products.

For those who aren’t aware, Facebook Marketplace works by encouraging sellers to sell within a 62 mile radius to allow a person-to-handover of the item and avoid a delivery service. Facebook can do it this way because their website is so ubiquitous. There are enough Facebook users in any one area to provide an acceptably large audience for the Marketplace adverts.

The prices are astonishingly cheap. The Times reports that Professor Paul Hunter of the University of East Anglia believes that FB Marketplace aids the spread of coronavirus. Of course the seller and buyer can stick to the 2 metre social distancing rules when completing the purchase. And the buyer can use common sense and employ my suggestions about receiving cardboard packages from Amazon. I’d have thought that the risk of transmission was remote.

However, this method of buying and selling contravenes the current UK regulations concerning reducing the spread of Covid-19. Facebook’s help section says that buyers and sellers should take advice from their local health authority and the World Health Organisation and ‘stay healthy and prevent the spread of coronavirus while buying and selling items’.

Facebook is monitoring the situation closely and ‘make necessary updates to keep people informed’. I think that Facebook administrators believe that sufficient precautions can be taken to reduce the risk of transmission to near zero. The problem is that the system gives the impression that Facebook are complicit in spreading the disease and are not doing enough to stop it.

My thanks to Shanti Das and Tome Claver who wrote The Sunday Times article of March 29th. I have withheld comments for no other reason than there will be no comments and they are another website element to load.

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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