Facebook's Marketplace, which has grown to a billion users in the past few years, is reportedly littered with thousands of scammers and fake listings that break the company's rules and hurt users because of the tech giant's inability to identify fraudulent activity.
The service, which was launched in 2016 to allow users to trade and sell everyday items, relies heavily on artificial intelligence to scan listings before they go live. But the system often fails to catch scammers and has a network of fake and suspicious accounts targeting buyers and sellers, according to an investigation by ProPublica.
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In the past year, criminals have taken advantage of Marketplace's lax standards, resulting in armed robberies, and in 13 cases, deaths. One of the more prominent cases involved a woman who was allegedly killed by a man who was selling a cheap refrigerator.
The social media giant's artificial intelligence systems often miss flagrant red flags on problematic behavior, such as fake accounts and unreasonably low-priced items. The approximately 400 workers who function as a back-stop to the AI also said their efforts at preventing fraud usually fail.
Furthermore, the Marketplace contract workers, who are employed by consulting firm Accenture and are in charge of user complaints and listings review, for years had open access to Facebook Messenger inboxes, which they used to spy on romantic partners and invade user privacy in other manners, according to current and former employees.
Facebook defended itself as doing as much as it can to reduce fraud and scams on the Marketplace and said that most users had a positive, constructive experience.
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"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," Drew Pusateri, a Facebook spokesman, said. "Any suggestion that we aren't trying to solve these complex problems or protect people who use Marketplace is not only false but misunderstands our entire approach to safety."
Pusateri added that Accenture contractors working on Marketplace could view Facebook user's Messenger inboxes in the past, but that this power was recently restricted only to messages sent on the Marketplace itself.
Original Location: Facebook Marketplace has a problem with scammers and spies looking into inboxes
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