What is Happening? Facebook users, particularly those who have been using Buy & Sell Groups to sell their animals for years, are suddenly seeing the response you see in this image.
This rejection does not come from the group admins, but rather directly from Facebook.
Where is this happening?
All over Facebook, but focus appears to be on Buy & Sell groups through Facebook, all over the world that use the “Sell Something” feature to list animals, animal services and even some animal products for sale or adoption. The example you see was an ad for riding lessons.
But where is this rule? I cannot Find it in the Community Guidelines!
And you won’t find it there. The rule exists on Facebook’s Commerce Policy page. It is virtually an “orphan” page it is not linked to by any of Facebook’s Help pages. In fact if you use a Backlinks checker, it appears everyone else links to it except the rare instance on Facebook.
But I just want to sell a bunny, I’m not in business. This Commerce Policy doesn’t apply to me!
Yes and no. The rule has been sitting there quietly unenforced for several years. While the Commerce Policy has not been applied much to Facebook groups, it has been used in the screening of promoted posts and other advertising on Facebook. As of October 2016, Facebook has a new reason to apply the rule to group posts.
What changed? Why are they now enforcing the ban on selling animals and animal services on Facebook?
Facebook Marketplace. That’s what changed. When Facebook launched it’s Marketplace in the fall of 2016, they wanted to bring to the world a powerful resource for buying and selling everything from pots and pans to cars and houses. Except animals. And, of course, all the usual banned items such as guns, drugs, sex and all the illegal or regulated things of the world.
Their aspirations were to take on the big hitters in the industry like CraigsList, Ebay and Kijiji. The potential revenues from a successful platform that has billions of ads was mind blowing.
But the launch of Marketplace was a bit embarrassing. Facebook’s own Mark Zuckerberg had to make a public apology for the rather appalling and often ridiculous content
In Pittsburgh, a can of beer was listed for $25. In London, someone was trying to “sell” his pregnant girlfriend for $400. And in New York, someone listed “About 6 Oz. Water (Bottle Not Included)” for $56.
Facebook’s guidelines prohibit a dozen categories of products from being sold on its platform, including drugs, animals, “adult items or services,” alcohol and weapons. Although Marketplace is a new feature, people have always been able to buy and sell things on Facebook. Stopping things like private gun sales has been a problem before.
But Why Animals?
The competitors that Facebook is taking on, have already taken steps to squeeze out or highly regulate anyone selling animals.
Craigslist does not allow pet sales and restricts the amount charged on adoptions. From a partial list of goods, services, and content prohibited on craigslist:
pet sales (re-homing with small adoption fee ok), animal parts, stud service
Kijij has taken a bit of a different stand, buy allowing pet sale ads but charging a fee and banning free pet ads.
Of course, on eBay, animals are just plain not allowed. Except worms. You can sell worms on eBay.
Pressure from animal rights activists, lobbyist groups and the general public. bad thing happen to innocent animals advertised for sale in faceless classified ads.
Many of those voices are honest, caring people looking out for the best interest of the animals. Others are sinister activist groups hell bent on forcing their personal views that people shouldn’t own or eat animals. Period. Those groups use the the honest caring people by manipulating emotions to suit their own agenda.
Right or wrong, in order to present a platform that could compete, Facebook had to remove the animal factor from the start. Unfortunately they failed miserably.
We at PETA very much love the animal companions who share our homes, but we believe that it would have been in the animals’ best interests if the institution of “pet keeping” — i.e., breeding animals to be kept and regarded as “pets” — never existed. The international pastime of domesticating animals has created an overpopulation crisis; as a result, millions of unwanted animals are destroyed every year as “surplus.”
WHY AREN’T ALL THE ANIMAL ADS BEING DELETED?
Give them time. Facebook has addressed the issue in two primary ways. With millions of ads to go through, it just means if they haven’t deleted your animal for sale ad yet, it’s only a matter of time.
First was rapid implementation of algorithms to detect ads with anything to do with animals and animal services. It is overkill, rejecting all kinds of ads because of key words or even images. A man posted a horse buggy for sale with a picture of a horse pulling it. The horse was not for sale, just the buggy. It was rejected until the animal policy.
Second was the development of a new report option and encouraging Facebook users to help them comb the Facebook groups to report ads selling animals.
What can I do to prevent my posts from being deleted?
DON’T list in any groups using the Sell Something feature, select “discussion” instead. Discussion posts are not fed to the Marketplace. This goes for ANY ad posted to do with animals. Stud services, coaches, trainers, even tack and supplies. This is not guaranteed to work, but it may help you stay under the radar for a while.
DO consider posting your animal for sale on an outside platform and sharing the ad to your Facebook Groups that allow that. Again, this is the type of post that does not get fed to the Marketplace.
CAN I DO ANYTHING TO CHANGE THIS?
Maybe. Although it is unlikely Facebook’s stand on no animals or animal services in the Marketplace will stand, we can still lobby Facebook to come up with a compromise that will allow us to continue using the groups and our own profiles and pages to buy and sell animals of all kinds, without the ads being fed to Marketplace.
You can sign this petition on Change.org
Facebook has banned animal for sale ads, it will cause more horses being slaughtered, dogs and cats being dumped.
This change is bad for both pets and livestock. The opportunity to screen homes and get to know buyers and sellers will be gone . Small, reputable breeders and farmers will lose their primary place to market their animals to good homes, forcing them to turn to high risk alternatives like auctions. But the puppy mills and the irresponsible breeders will continue as they always have, making money off the uninformed.
This change hurts everyone — pets, sellers, and buyers alike.