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Amazon rainforest plots sold via Facebook Marketplace ads

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By Joao Fellet & Charlotte Pamment

BBC Brasil

media captionWATCH: On patrol with an indigenous leader trying to protect the Amazon from land grabbers

Parts of Brazil’s Amazon rainforest are being illegally sold on Facebook, the BBC has discovered.

The protected areas include national forests and land reserved for indigenous peoples.

Some of the plots listed via Facebook’s classified ads service are as large as 1,000 football pitches.

Facebook said it was “ready to work with local authorities”, but indicated it would not take independent action of its own to halt the trade.

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“Our commerce policies require buyers and sellers to comply with laws and regulations,” the Californian tech firm added.

image copyrightBrasil2

image captionThe Amazon has been described as being the lungs of the Earth – and it is being destroyed

The leader of one of the indigenous communities affected has urged the tech firm to do more.

And campaigners have claimed the country’s government is unwilling to halt the sales.

“The land invaders feel very empowered to the point that they are not ashamed of going on Facebook to make illegal land deals,” said Ivaneide Bandeira, head of environmental NGO Kanind茅.

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No certificates

Anyone can find the illegally invaded plots by typing the Portuguese equivalents for search terms like “forest”, “native jungle” and “timber” into Facebook Marketplace’s search tool, and picking one of the Amazonian states as the location.

Some of the listings feature satellite images and GPS co-ordinates.

image copyrightGetty Images

image captionCattle are often put to graze on land that is meant to be protected

Many of the sellers openly admit they do not have a land title, the only document which proves ownership of land under Brazilian law.

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The illegal activity is being fuelled by Brazil’s cattle ranching industry.

‘No risk’

Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon is at a 10-year high, and Facebook’s Marketplace has become a go-to site for sellers like Fabricio Guimar茫es, who was filmed by a hidden camera.

“There’s no risk of an inspection by state agents here,” he said as he walked through a patch of rainforest he had burnt to the ground.

image captionFabricio is using Facebook Marketplace to sell land he has grabbed from indigenous communities

With the land illegally cleared and ready for farming, he had tripled his initial asking price to $35,000 (拢25,000).

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Fabricio is not a farmer. He has steady middle-class job in a city, and views the rainforest as being an investment opportunity.

The BBC later contacted Fabricio for his response to its investigation but he declined to comment.

Going undercover

Many of the ads came from Rond么nia, the most deforested state in Brazil’s rainforest region.

The BBC arranged meetings between four sellers from the state and an undercover operative posing as a lawyer claiming to represent wealthy investors.

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One man, called Alvim Souza Alves, was trying to sell a plot inside the Uru Eu Wau Wau indigenous reserve for about 拢16,400 in local currency.

It is the home to a community of more than 200 Uru Eu Wau Wau people. And at least five further groups that have had no contact with the outside world also live there, according to the Brazilian government.

But at the meeting, Mr Alves claimed: “There are no Indians [sic] there. From where my land is, they are 50km [31 miles] away. I am not going to tell you that at one time or another they are not walking around.”

image captionThe Uru Eu Wau Wau people are trying to protect their land from invaders

The BBC showed the Facebook ad to community leader Bitat茅 Uru Eu Wau Wau.

He said the lot was in an area used by his community to hunt, fish and collect fruits.

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“This is a lack of respect,” he said.

“I don’t know these people. I think their objective is to deforest the indigenous land, to deforest what is standing. To deforest our lives, you could say.”

He said the authorities should intervene, and also urged Facebook – “the most accessed social media platform” – to take action of its own.

Changed status

Another factor driving the illegal land market is the expectation of amnesty.

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Mr Alves revealed he was working with others to lobby politicians to help them legally own stolen land.

“I’ll tell you the truth: if this is not solved with [President] Bolsonaro there, it won’t be solved anymore,” he said of the current government.

A common strategy is to deforest the land and then plead with politicians to abolish its protected status, on the basis it no longer serves its original purpose.

The land grabbers can then officially buy the plots from the government, thereby legalising their claims.

image captionAlvim Souza Alves told a BBC undercover agent that he was selling indigenous land but did not show a legal land title

Mr Alves took the BBC’s undercover reporter to meet a man he described as the leader of the Curupira Association. Brazil’s federal police have described the group as being an illegal land-grabbing operation focused on invading indigenous territory.

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The two men told the reporter that high-profile politicians were helping them set up meetings with government agencies in the capital Bras铆lia.

They said their main ally was congressman Colonel Chris贸stomo, a member of the Social Liberal Party, which Mr Bolsonaro used to be a member of until he founded his own party in 2019.

When contacted by the BBC, Colonel Chris贸stomo acknowledged having helped arrange meetings, but said he did not know the group was involved in land invasions.

“They didn’t tell me,” he said. “If they invaded [the land], they don’t have my support anymore.”

When asked if he regretted setting up the meetings, he said: “No.”

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The BBC contacted Mr Alves for his response but he declined to comment.

image copyrightIgnacio Palacios

image captionThe Amazon rainforest is home to one in 10 known species on Earth

The BBC also approached Brazil’s Minister of the Environment, Ricardo Salles.

He said: “President Jair Bolsonaro’s government has always made it clear that his is a zero-tolerance government for any crime, including environmental ones.”

The government has cut the inspections budget for Ibama, the federal agency that in charge of regulating deforestation, by 40%.

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But Mr Salles said the coronavirus pandemic had hampered law enforcement in the Amazon, and that state governments also bore responsibility for the deforestation.

“This year the government has created operation Verde Brasil 2, which seeks to control illegal deforestation, illegal fires, and to join efforts between the federal government and the states,” he added.

However Raphael Bevilaquia, a federal prosecutor based in Rond么nia, said the situation had worsened under the current government.

“The situation is really desperate,” he said. “The executive power is playing against us. It’s disheartening.”

For its part, Facebook claims trying to deduce which sales are illegal would be too complex a task for it to carry out itself, and should be left to the local judiciary and other authorities. And it does not appear to see the issue as being serious enough to warrant halting all Marketplace land sales across the Amazon.

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Ivaneide Bandeira, who has been trying to combat deforestation in the state of Rond么nia for 30 years, said she was losing hope.

“I think this is a very hard battle. It is really painful to see the forest being destroyed and shrinking more and more,” she said.

“Never, in any other moment in history, has it been so hard to keep the forest standing.”

Our World: Selling the Amazon will be broadcast on BBC World News at 2330 GMT, and on the BBC News Channel this Saturday and Sunday at 2130 GMT. It will also be available on iPlayer.

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Updating Special Ad Audiences for housing, employment, and credit advertisers

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On June 21, 2022 we announced an important settlement with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that will change the way we deliver housing ads to people residing in the US. Specifically, we are building into our ads system a method designed to make sure the audience that ends up seeing a housing ad more closely reflects the eligible targeted audience for that ad.

As part of this agreement, we will also be sunsetting Special Ad Audiences, a tool that lets advertisers expand their audiences for ad sets related to housing. We are choosing to sunset this for employment and credit ads as well. In 2019, in addition to eliminating certain targeting options for housing, employment and credit ads, we introduced Special Ad Audiences as an alternative to Lookalike Audiences. But the field of fairness in machine learning is a dynamic and evolving one, and Special Ad Audiences was an early way to address concerns. Now, our focus will move to new approaches to improve fairness, including the method previously announced.

What鈥檚 happening: We鈥檙e removing the ability to create Special Ad Audiences via Ads Manager beginning on August 25, 2022.

Beginning October 12th, 2022, we will pause any remaining ad sets that contain Special Ad Audiences. These ad sets may be restarted once advertisers have removed any and all Special Ad Audiences from those ad sets. We are providing a two month window between preventing new Special Ad Audiences and pausing existing Special Ad Audiences to enable advertisers the time to adjust budgets and strategies as needed.

See also  War Of Labels: How Facebook Plans To Tackle Apple's New Privacy Rules

For more details, please visit our Newsroom post.

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Impact to Advertisers using Marketing API on September 13, 2022

For advertisers and partners using the API listed below, the blocking of new Special Ad Audience creation will present a breaking change on all versions. Beginning August 15, 2022, developers can start to implement the code changes, and will have until September 13, 2022, when the non-versioning change occurs and prior values are deprecated. Refer below to the list of impacted endpoints related to this deprecation:

For reading audience:

  • endpoint gr:get:AdAccount/customaudiences
  • field operation_status

For adset creation:

  • endpoint gr:post:AdAccount/adsets
  • field subtype

For adset editing:

  • endpoint gr:post:AdCampaign
  • field subtype

For custom audience creation:

  • endpoint gr:post:AdAccount/customaudiences
  • field subtype

For custom audience editing:

  • endpoint gr:post:CustomAudience

Please refer to the developer documentation for further details to support code implementation.

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Introducing an Update to the Data Protection Assessment

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Over the coming year, some apps with access to certain types of user data on our platforms will be required to complete the annual Data Protection Assessment. We have made a number of improvements to this process since our launch last year, when we introduced our first iteration of the assessment.

The updated Data Protection Assessment will include a new developer experience that is enhanced through streamlined communications, direct support, and clear status updates. Today, we鈥檙e sharing what you can expect from these new updates and how you can best prepare for completing this important privacy requirement if your app is within scope.

If your app is in scope for the Data Protection Assessment, and you鈥檙e an app admin, you鈥檒l receive an email and a message in your app’s Alert Inbox when it鈥檚 time to complete the annual assessment. You and your team of experts will then have 60 calendar days to complete the assessment. We鈥檝e built a new platform that enhances the user experience of completing the Data Protection Assessment. These updates to the platform are based on learnings over the past year from our partnership with the developer community. When completing the assessment, you can expect:

  • Streamlined communication: All communications and required actions will be through the My Apps page. You鈥檒l be notified of pending communications requiring your response via your Alerts Inbox, email, and notifications in the My Apps page.

    Note: Other programs may still communicate with you through the App Contact Email.

  • Available support: Ability to engage with Meta teams via the Support tool to seek clarification on the questions within the Data Protection Assessment prior to submission and help with any requests for more info, or to resolve violations.

    Note: To access this feature, you will need to add the app and app admins to your Business Manager. Please refer to those links for step-by-step guides.

  • Clear status updates: Easy to understand status and timeline indicators throughout the process in the App Dashboard, App Settings, and My Apps page.
  • Straightforward reviewer follow-ups: Streamlined experience for any follow-ups from our reviewers, all via developers.facebook.com.

We鈥檝e included a brief video that provides a walkthrough of the experience you鈥檒l have with the Data Protection Assessment:

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The Data Protection Assessment elevates the importance of data security and helps gain the trust of the billions of people who use our products and services around the world. That鈥檚 why we are committed to providing a seamless experience for our partners as you complete this important privacy requirement.

Here is what you can do now to prepare for the assessment:

  1. Make sure you are reachable: Update your developer or business account contact email and notification settings.
  2. Review the questions in the Data Protection Assessment and engage with your teams on how best to answer these questions. You may have to enlist the help of your legal and information security points of contact to answer some parts of the assessment.
  3. Review Meta Platform Terms and our Developer Policies.

We know that when people choose to share their data, we鈥檙e able to work with the developer community to safely deliver rich and relevant experiences that create value for people and businesses. It鈥檚 a privilege we share when people grant us access to their data, and it鈥檚 imperative that we protect that data in order to maintain and build upon their trust. This is why the Data Protection Assessment focuses on data use, data sharing and data security.

Data privacy is challenging and complex, and we’re dedicated to continuously improving the processes to safeguard user privacy on our platform. Thank you for partnering with us as we continue to build a safer, more sustainable platform.

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Resources for Completing App Store Data Practice Questionnaires for Apps That Include the Facebook or Audience Network SDK

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Updated July 18: Developers and advertising partners may be required to share information on their app鈥檚 privacy practices in third party app stores, such as Google Play and the Apple App Store, including the functionality of SDKs provided by Meta. To help make it easier for you to complete these requirements, we have consolidated information that explains our data collection practices for the Facebook and Audience Network SDKs.

Facebook SDK

To provide functionality within the Facebook SDK, we may receive and process certain contact, location, identifier, and device information associated with Facebook users and their use of your application. The information we receive depends on what SDK features 3rd party applications use and we have structured the document below according to these features.

App Ads, Facebook Analytics, & App Events

Facebook App Events allow you to measure the performance of your app using Facebook Analytics, measure conversions associated with Facebook ads, and build audiences to acquire new users as well as re-engage existing users. There are a number of different ways your app can use app events to keep track of when people take specific actions such as installing your app or completing a purchase.

With Facebook SDK, there are app events that are automatically logged (app installs, app launches, and in-app purchases) and collected for Facebook Analytics unless you disable automatic event logging. Developers determine what events to send to Facebook from a list of standard events, or via a custom event.

When developers send Facebook custom events, these events could include data types outside of standard events. Developers control sending these events to Facebook either directly via application code or in Events Manager for codeless app events. Developers can review their code and Events Manager to determine which data types they are sending to Facebook. It鈥檚 the developer鈥檚 responsibility to ensure this is reflected in their application鈥檚 privacy policy.

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Advanced Matching

Developers may also send us additional user contact information in code, or via the Events Manager. Advanced matching functionality may use the following data, if sent:

  • email address, name, phone number, physical address (city, state or province, zip or postal code and country), gender, and date of birth.
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Facebook Login

There are two scenarios for applications that use Facebook Login via the Facebook SDK: Authenticated Sign Up or Sign In, and User Data Access via Permissions. For authentication, a unique, app-specific identifier tied to a user鈥檚 Facebook Account enables the user to sign in to your app. For Data Access, a user must explicitly grant your app permission to access data.

Note: Since Facebook Login is part of the Facebook SDK, we may collect other information referenced here when you use Facebook Login, depending on your settings.

Device Information

We may also receive and process the following information if your app is integrated with the Facebook SDK:

  • Device identifiers;
  • Device attributes, such as device model and screen dimensions, CPU core, storage size, SDK version, OS and app versions, and app package name; and
  • Networking information, such as the name of the mobile operator or ISP, language, time zone, and IP address.

Audience Network SDK

We may receive and process the following information when you use the Audience Network SDK to integrate Audience Network ads in your app:

  • Device identifiers;
  • Device attributes, such as device model and screen dimensions, operating system, mediation platform and SDK versions; and
  • Ad performance information, such as impressions, clicks, placement, and viewability.

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