The social media giant says it will start clamping down on the illegal sales of ecological conservation areas within the Amazon Rainforest on its site. 

What is Happening?

The world’s largest social media platform Facebook says they’ll be banning the sale of protected and ecological conservation areas within the Amazon rainforest on its e-commerce platforms, and review listings on Facebook Marketplace. 

“Today, we are announcing measures to curb attempts to sell land in ecological conservation areas within the Amazon rainforest on Facebook Marketplace,” the company announced via a blog post on Friday, October 8. “We are updating our commerce policies to explicitly prohibit the buying or selling of land of any type in ecological conservation areas on our commerce products across Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp.”

Facebook Marketplace lists a wide range of products available for people to purchase locally and shipped overseas. It can vary from vehicles, property rentals, and apparently, even land. 

Facebook will “identify listings that may violate this new policy” using a database managed by the United Nation Environment Program World Conservation Monitoring Centre, which it says to be the most comprehensive database of its kind and is updated monthly using reports from “a range of government and other institutions”. The announcement also adds they will observe the process’ progress and “make improvements as appropriate.”

The social media giant is introducing these new measures following an investigation conducted by the BBC in February, 2021 that found large plots of land, covering hundreds of acres,  hat are located within national forests were listed on the social media’s classified ads platform. 

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The Amazon rainforest, which spans more than 7.5 million sq m and more than seven countries, is one of the planet’s most important natural carbon sinks. The rainforest has been facing rapidly increasing threats due to human development and climate change, especially in Brazil where deforestation rates are at a 12-year high under President Jair Bolsonaro’s policies. Despite conservation efforts and initiatives, a third of deforestation occurs in publicly-owned land in the Amazon, according to a recent study from the think tank Ipam. 

However, Facebook’s commerce policies change only covers ecological conservation areas within the Amazon, and does not apply to any publicly owned forest land or other rainforest and wildlife habitats across the world. 

Facebook has recently come under fire following whistle-blower and former Facebook data scientist, Frances Haugen, coming forward and revealing that the company prioritised profit over public good, and was fully aware that the social media platform was used to spread heat and misinformation.