From the graffiti-covered markets of ancient Rome to the launch of Facebook Marketplace, one thing has remained constant: Give people a forum to buy and sell whatever they want, and they’ll immediately make a black market out of it. That’s what prompted Facebook to issue an apology earlier this week, saying it was sorry for posts offering to sell guns, drugs, and even babies—that last one hopefully a joke—that popped up as soon as the new swap-meet feature appeared on the social-media site on Monday. Here’s what came up in a search conducted in Chicago on Monday night:
Yep, the very first thing that popped up was somebody selling weed. (And a cool deal on an ATV, but that’s not the point.)
Anyway, anyone who’s ever done a little digging into the darker recesses of Craigslist—or who was once a teenager—could tell you that this was going to happen. And according to CNN, Facebook had problems with people selling guns on the site even before Marketplace began its rollout. So why the company thought users would obey guidelines prohibiting the sale of a dozen categories of items—including drugs, animals, “adult items or services,” alcohol, and weapons—this time around is a mystery. Compounding the issue was the fact that users were supposed to self-police Marketplace by reporting items they found “inappropriate,” like some shitty dirt weed trying to pass itself off as Alien OG.
At first, Facebook blamed a “technical issue” for the posts, although “human nature” would have probably been more apt. Since then, the company has halted the rollout of Marketplace in order to clear out all the “strange” items that have popped up for sale and find a way to filter out blatantly illegal posts. No time frame has been given for the relaunch, but if Facebook is hoping to wait until people no longer think it’s hilarious to sell half-empty bottles of water (“bottle not included”) for $56, it might as well shelve the project entirely.