The BBC has uncovered a massive issue with Facebook Marketplace. Plots of the Amazon Rainforest are being sold illegally on the platform. The sellers are doing this in an attempt to deforest it further and get the protected status lifted from the land.
The protected areas being sold include national forests and land reserved for indigenous peoples. The plots being sold are as large as 1,000 football pitches. One football pitch is measured at 7,140 square meters. The ads are coming up with either images or GPS coordinates showing where the land is located.
Facebook has said it’s willing to work with local authorities but indicated they will not take action on their own to stop the sales. “Our commerce policies require buyers and sellers to comply with laws and regulations,” they said in a statement.
Who’s Doing This?
The sales are being lead by Brazil’s cattle ranching industry. The land is being sold without certificates but the sellers say they have proof of ownership under Brazilian Law. Many of the ads are coming from Rondônia. Rondônia is the most deforested state in Brazil’s rainforest region and they are saying that the sales are promoting further deforestation in the region.
The BBC went undercover and held a meeting with one of the sellers of the land. The seller said that no indigenous people were living on the land and the closest tribe was 31 miles away. This was a blatant untruth. When they spoke with community leader Bitaté Uru Eu Wau Wau he said that the area referenced was where they would fish, hunt and collect berries.
The seller also said that he was working with others to lobby politicians to help them legally own stolen land. They are trying to convince politicians to life the protected status of the land by having the land deforested or burned down. After that landgrabbers can legally purchase the land once the conservation status is removed.
The natives are urging Facebook to take action on their own to stop these trades. They feel unsafe because there is no regulation on what is going on. They are forming their own measures and are patrolling their land until this issue gets resolved.