Recalled products linked to infant deaths still sold on Facebook, despite thousands of take down requests, lawmakers say

Recalled products linked to infant deaths still sold on Facebook, despite thousands of take down requests, lawmakers say

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Recalled baby products linked to more than 100 infant deaths are still being sold on Facebook Marketplace, despite thousands of federal takedown requests, lawmakers said in a letter to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg. 

The lawmakers pointed to the Fisher Price Rock ‘n Play, which was linked to around 100 deaths, eight deaths that occurred after the recall, and the Boppy Newborn Lounger, which has been linked to at least 10 deaths. 

In their Thursday letter, the group of bipartisan lawmakers said Meta was not doing enough to stop users from selling the products online, noting that the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) was “unaware of any proactive measures Meta has taken to prevent these postings in the future.”

“Meta’s failure to prevent recalled products from being posted for sale on its platform has resulted in your users and their children being placed at risk of purchasing and using a product that CPSC has found to pose a serious risk of injury and potential death,” the lawmakers wrote.

Meta notes that products sold on Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp are required to comply with the company’s commerce policies. Recalled products are listed as prohibited content. 

“Like other platforms where people can buy and sell goods, there are instances of people knowingly or unknowingly selling recalled goods on Marketplace,” a Meta spokesperson said Tuesday. “We take this issue seriously and when we find listings that violate our rules, we remove them.” 

A company spokesperson last year told CBS MoneyWatch that there are “40,000 people across Meta working on safety and security, which includes teams proactively enforcing our commerce policies that prohibit the sale of recalled goods.”

CPSC Chair Alexander Hoehn-Saric has sent several letters to Meta regarding the issue. In a letter last year, he wrote that in 2020, about half of the organizations’ take down requests were made to Facebook Marketplace, with that percentage growing to around 75% of take down requests in 2022. Hoehn-Saric sent a follow-up letter in April. 

“Over 13 months from February 7, 2022, through March 7, 2023, CPSC’s surveillance staff has issued 3,981 takedown requests for Fisher Price Rock ‘n Play inclined sleepers,” he wrote to Zuckerberg. “This is an average of 306 takedowns per month or approximately 10 requests per day, with most of those requests being submitted to Facebook Marketplace.”

He acknowledged that Meta was quick to remove the listings once they’d been flagged as problems, but said that Meta needed to be more proactive in keeping the “illegal offers of life-threatening products” off of its platforms. 

“I’m encouraged to see lawmakers working in a bipartisan way to hold these platforms accountable for the safety of the products sold on their sites,” Hoehn-Saric told CBS News Tuesday. “With the immense resources and reach these marketplaces have, there’s no good reason they can’t keep recalled and violative products off their sites. The burden should not fall on consumers to weed out illegal products. CPSC has been pushing platforms to prioritize consumer product safety and I welcome Congressional and legislative support in this effort.”

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