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Try to sell stuff through Facebook Marketplace and get locked out for 72 hours – nice one, Zuck

Bug of the week, perhaps?

By Thomas Claburn, 26 Apr 2017

Netizens trying to sell items in Facebook Marketplace for the first time were completely locked out of the social network for 72 hours this week.

The banishment appears to be a consequence of Facebook's desire to vet photos of Marketplace sellers.

Facebook leaves content verification to its community because, as CEO Mark Zuckerberg insists: "Only a very small amount is fake news and hoaxes." Also, editorial oversight is expensive. The ad biz is perhaps more sensitive to the risk of Marketplace fraud.

In a Reddit post, an individual who claims to have been affected by the issue recounted receiving a Facebook auto-invitation to sell a bike through Marketplace after posting the item for sale in a Facebook group.

"I said 'Yes' and was almost immediately kicked off the website and asked for a personal picture of myself to help identify who I was," the individual said. "[Facebook] says it is a security protocol and that within 72 hours they will let me know if the picture I sent in is acceptable to gain access back to [Facebook]."

Downtime monitoring service Downdetector.com is presently full of complaints about Facebook lockouts – some lasting more than 72 hours – and about lost sales.

On Twitter, a search for the hashtag #facebook72hours returns dozens of people claiming that they've been exiled from Zuckerberg's share-happy social utopia.

Facebook launched the current iteration of Marketplace last October, after its previous incarnation that was introduced in 2007 was shut down in 2014. Sooner or later, Facebook will have a viable Craigslist competitor.

In an email to The Register, a Facebook spokesperson said the problem has been dealt with. "We resolved an issue in our fraud detection system that prevented some people using Marketplace from logging into Facebook," the spokesperson said. "We have restored access to the small percentage of people who were impacted."

Coincidentally, users of Facebook's Instagram have the opposite problem. Instead of taking a forced 72-hour hiatus, they're unable to take a break, owing to being unable to temporarily disable their accounts.

Like Facebook proper, Instagram offers a way to step away from the service temporarily by deactivating but not deleting one's account. However, Instagram's mechanism for doing this hasn't been functioning properly, or so people have been claiming for several months. ®

The Register - Independent news and views for the tech sector. Part of Situation Publishing