Amazon rainforest illegally for sale on Facebook Marketplace

Occurred: February 2021-

Swathes of Brazil's Amazon rainforest, including national forests and land reserved for indigenous peoples, were being illegally bought and sold on Facebook's Marketplace commerce site.

The protected areas included national forests and land reserved for indigenous peoples, with some plots listed on Facebook’s classified ads service reportedly as large as 1,000 football pitches.

Many sellers openly admitted they did not have a land title, which is the only document that proves ownership of land under Brazilian law. The illegal activity is thought to have been primarily fueled by Brazil’s cattle ranching industry.

The issue raised concerns among environmentalists and indigenous communities, who claimed Brazil's government is unwilling to halt the sales. The Amazon rainforest is often described as the lungs of the Earth, and plays a crucial role in the global climate system

The revelations were provoked an inquiry by Brazil’s Supreme Court, though Facebook said it would allow the sales to continue. 

October 2021. Facebook announced that it was updating its commerce policies to prohibit the sale of land in ecological conservation areas across Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp.

Operator: Meta/Facebook
Developer: Meta/Facebook
Country: Brazil
Sector: Retail
Purpose: Sell products/services, advertising
Technology: Database
Issue: Ethics; Legality
Transparency: Governance

Page info
Type: Incident
Published: February 2021
Last updated: June 2024