Searching for a used car on Facebook Marketplace might seem slightly less sketchy on the surface than, say, using Craigslist, but those who want to definitely have ways to game the system. It’s not terribly uncommon to happen across dealerships listing duplicate cars for sale, often with absurdly low prices in multiple locations. It’s annoying at best and predatory at worst, so it’s welcome news that Facebook is cutting businesses off from the platform starting this coming February. Well, sort of.
One Reddit user on r/cars shared the contents of an email they received from Facebook parent company Meta, explaining that business accounts will no longer be permitted to list cars and real estate in the coming months:
Just got this email: “Starting on January 30, 2023, Meta will no longer support the ability for sellers to create vehicle & real estate / rentals listings using a Facebook business Page, along with the Vehicles Tab and Manage Inventory tab in markets where this feature is currently available. The free person-to-person listings for vehicle & real estate / rentals listings will still be available on Marketplace. Your ability to reach audiences via ads is also not changing. We are simply changing how inventory may be displayed in the future.”
The crucial details here are that private transactions aren’t going away, and, regrettably, neither are ads. That second one is really a shame, because the ads on Facebook Marketplace are fucking weird. Like this one below, that showed up when I searched for a Honda Civic near me:
Yikes! Anyway, initially this appears to be a good step, as those who would prefer to work with a dealer can of course still do so via the likes of Cars.com and AutoTrader. Though I’m positive some will masquerade as people, and I know this because plenty do already. Facebook currently marks dealerships as such with a tag next to the vehicle’s location, and in my searches I’ve come across many dealer-sold cars that are not accurately labeled.
What’s more, the way Facebook describes this move invites further questions about the policy’s actual intent. According to the official support page on the topic, all existing listings from business accounts will effectively be deleted on January 30. However, Facebook also adds that “while the ability to post vehicle, real estate and rentals listings from Facebook business Pages will no longer be available on Marketplace, you can continue reaching vehicle and home buyers or home renters on Facebook in other ways,” including “creating Marketplace listings from your personal profile.”
So does Facebook expect dealers that were previously using business accounts to simply publish their listings as fake people? More importantly, will Facebook actually stop them from doing so? Such activity would seem to go against the site’s own Terms of Service, though the language there is a little vague, too. “Profiles are best for personal use, not for businesses or organizations,” the Meta Business Help Center gently suggests.
Eliminating the dealership presence from Facebook Marketplace seems like a good idea at the outset, but only time will tell if this plan will actually achieve that goal. Of course, Meta is all too happy to recommend commercial sellers buy ads as an alternative. We’ve reached out to Meta for comment, and will update this story with whatever we learn.