Facebook Marketplace turns into wild wild west where criminals and hackers rule, says report – India Today
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Facebook Marketplace, a platform that was introduced in 2016 and has around 1 billion users has become a place for hackers to dupe users, says a new report. Marketplace is a dedicated hub where people can post used items for sale including cars, clothes, boats, toys and get connected to buyers, usually living in the same area, to complete the transaction.

A new report by ProPublica, a US-based website, notes that Marketplace has become a virtual space inhabited by many cybercriminals and hackers who often dupe users without impunity. Worse, the content moderators employed by Facebook are doing such a bad job of weeding out cybercriminals and scammers that even when they spot troubling incidents or rogue accounts they do not act.

Facebook Marketplace has 400 workers employed by Accenture in the US, Ireland, India and Singapore. These workers are required to handle over 600 complaints or help requests a day, which gives each worker less than one minute per incident. According to the report, Marketplace contract workers rarely stop scams before they happen, even if they are aware of them. The contractors get involved only after a customer has been ripped off or duped.

“It’s 100 per cent reactive, it’s not proactive. I don’t think I’ve ever stopped anyone from getting robbed,” ProPublica cited a former contractor who worked on Marketplace for roughly two years.

Apart from the workers, Facebook has automated software that scans listings for signs of fraud or other suspicious signals before it goes live. The report cited workers who noted that the detection services fail more often than not and rarely ban obvious scams and listings that violate Facebook’s commerce policies. This automated software also blocks some legitimate consumers from using the platform. It thus results in financial losses, hacked Facebook accounts and stolen personal information.

The publication cited internal Marketplace documents, law enforcement bulletins from multiple countries that 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 egg farms, among other enterprises.

It also cited several cases where murderers posed to be sellers on Marketplace. One such incident took place in 2019 when Denise Williams, 54, went to collect a cheap refrigerator she had found on Facebook Marketplace in Pennsylvania. The seller, a 26-year-old Joshua Gorgone admitted to police that he stabbed Williams when she came to his apartment in April to buy the used fridge, which he had posted for $160, according to court documents.
According to the publication which cited the police, Gorgone stabbed Williams multiple times after which she bled to death. Gorgone told police that he stole her 2019 Chevrolet Trax SUV and used her money to buy heroin.

According to ProPublica, Facebook acknowledged the issues but also noted that the company was trying its best to fix them. “All online marketplaces face challenges and ours is no exception, which is why we’re always working to prevent new ways to scam and defraud people. Any suggestion that we aren’t trying to solve these complex problems or protect people who use the Marketplace is not only false but misunderstands our entire approach to safety,” Drew Pusateri, a Facebook spokesperson told ProPublica.



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