A handgun for $20, a baby for $111 and a pregnant girlfriend for $400 were just some of the dubious listings in an array of products being sold that go against Facebook's commerce policy. Still, they were in full, uncompromising display over at the site on Monday.
The marketplace has always been a feature of the site introduced way back in 2007, and gun sales, among other things, has always been a problem before. Only recently has Facebook retooled the marketplace to design it specifically as a specialized section of buy-and-sell transactions in a given community. Facebook's commerce policy states that illegal drugs, both prescription and recreational, are prohibited, and so are 11 frowned-upon others, which include tobacco items, unsafe supplements, weapons or explosives, animals, sexual items or services, alcohol, gambling services and more.
Several users took to Twitter to upload screencaps of the illegal items on the marketplace, displaying a hefty supply of inappropriate items crowding up the refreshed Marketplace. The items range from funny, strange, obscene to fully illegal.
Shortly after the reports, Mary Ku, Facebook's director for product management, issued an apology. In her email statement, she said that a technical issue hindered Facebook from identifying Marketplace listings that violated its commerce policy.
"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," Ku said. The specific technical issue was not given ample explanation.
Facebook has halted the rollout of Marketplace temporarily as it whips up a fix. The company said that it's still in the process of removing all items that slipped through and bypassed its commerce policy. A Facebook spokesperson told Business Insider that Facebook's employees would be on the lookout for illegal listings as well as reviewing posts reported by users in the future.
With over 1.5 billion users ferrying the social networking site, the not-so-subtle presence of these illegal goods paints the service risky and unsafe, not to mention a possible attraction point for a herd of black market consumers. The debacle makes Marketplace dangerously hover close to the likes of Silk Road, an online black market shut down in 2013 by the FBI.
Just last week, Facebook told USA Today that it would take "appropriate action to make Marketplace a safe place for people."
Facebook released Marketplace on Oct. 3, adding a dedicated shortcut inside the Facebook app. It's expected to roll out to the U.S., UK, Australia and New Zealand in the coming days. That is, if Facebook is able to iron out the situation first. Marketplace will also be available on desktop in a few months.