WTF is Facebook Marketplace? Buy and sell (almost) anything

The social network wants to help offload your junk

Facebook Marketplace

Many of us already spent unseemly amounts of time on Facebook, whether it's peeping profiles or chatting with pals, but the social networking giant is always looking for ways to pull us in even deeper.

The latest addition? Facebook Marketplace, essentially a geo-located version of the US-favourite Craigslist that is tied to your Facebook account and accessible via the mobile app. Just tap the little icon that's newly found on the navigation bar - where Messenger used to be - and you'll see all the latest stuff up for sale nearby.

Selling your refuse – sorry, fine used goods – over the Internet is hardly an innovation, but it puts real faces and names to the items and ensures we have to spend even less time outside of Facebook. Looking for a deal, or need to unload some wares? Here's everything you need to know about Facebook Marketplace.

Where is this marketplace?

Facebook Marketplace

It's right there in the iOS and Android app! Haven't seen it before? Facebook is always making subtle tweaks to the mobile apps, and the latest update added a little store icon to the bottom of the screen (on iOS) or top of the screen (Android). Tap that and you'll be shown a list of newly-added nearby items with photos, and you can tap each for further details.

At the moment, the Marketplace is exclusive to the mobile apps, although Facebook says it will add desktop access in the future. Furthermore, only people who are 18 and older can access the function, and right now it's rolling out in the UK, United States, Australia, and New Zealand, with further territories coming down the line.

How does it work?

Facebook Marketplace

Once you've tapped on an image and read the description – which is usually very, very short and often lacking detail – you can choose to make an offer or message the seller. A price point is listed, but Marketplace is designed to let sellers easily field multiple offers and then go with the best option.

You can also see the rough area on the map where the item is located, and view an abridged user profile that shows other things that he or she is selling. The Marketplace also has categories, although there's nowhere near the depth you get on Amazon or eBay, but you can search for specific items if you know what you're after.

Meanwhile, if you're the one selling, you can post in a matter of seconds: snap or pick a photo, add a quick description, set the price, and then you're pretty much in business. It's a lot easier than posting on eBay or placing a Craigslist ad, and you can manage your listings easily from the Marketplace hub.

How do deals go down?

That's entirely up to you, surprisingly – Facebook isn't taking a cut of any sales, and you don't have to funnel the payment through the social network. It's entirely hands-off, likely because trusting people to follow the rules would open Facebook up to some huge liabilities. Facebook just provides the infrastructure, and you can handle the rest.

Once you've agreed to a deal, you can sort out the details for payment and pickup through messaging. As always, don't be too trustful of the random people you meet on the Internet, even if they're found through Facebook: ideally meet in daylight or a well-lit and populous area where you're less likely to be robbed or attacked. The same rules apply for buying, too. Be vigilant, Facebookers.

It's probably also a good idea to use PayPal if that's an option, as that'll give you some element of compensation should the item not be as you expected - whereas that won't be the case for a cash payment. Just be aware that there are terms and conditions governing what you can and can't claim back for. There is an option to 'Report' a seller, though we're not yet entirely sure what effect this will have.

What can I buy?

Facebook Marketplace

What can't you buy? Actually, hold that thought... you can buy quite a bit. A quick glance at the recent listings in our area shows a range of old video game consoles, headphones, car parts, women's clothes, furniture, professional services, shoes, jewellery, appliances, and plenty more.

It also shows that a lot of people think their old phones and laptops are worth a lot more than you should pay for outdated hardware. Maybe check eBay before you splash too much cash on old tech.

Fortunately, the Marketplace is also good for a laugh. We found an offer of services for an "incompetent edit assistant" who "resembles a bear/bear cub" and is available for the reasonable rate of £100 (daily, we presume). Tempting! Another listing offered a square inch of carpet for £999,999,999, which doesn't seem like a great deal, but you be the judge.

Can I sell my body (and drugs)?

Nope. Well, you might have had a chance for a few hours there: an early bug in the system failed to filter out offers of sex, drugs, guns, and other highly illegal things, which meant Facebook Marketplace was basically Silk Road for maybe half a day (except in full view).

But no, sorry, Facebook won't actively facilitate the next great destination for all of your illicit needs. Something could always slip through, but if you ever have to worry about being detained or imprisoned for selling something, you probably shouldn't list it on Facebook Marketplace with your name and location attached.

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