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How de-cluttering grew Facebook Marketplace to 1bn users

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By Suzanne Bearne

Business reporter

image copyrightSaytani Mitra

image captionSayantani Mitra gets “a thrill” from finding good second-hand stuff online

Sayantani Mitra say she now scrolls through listings on Facebook Marketplace “for hours”.

A 28-year-old from Oxford, prior to the pandemic she “would buy everything from charity shops, whether that’s furniture, clothes, or bags and accessories”.

But with lockdowns closing High Streets last year, her hunt for second-hand bargains switched to listings websites and apps.

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Ms Mitra also now uses eBay and sites Vinted and Vesaire, which both specialise in people selling pre-owned clothing. But she says that Facebook Marketplace is her “first place to go” because it focuses on sellers who live nearby.

“There’s a thrill in finding something unique on there,” says Ms Mitra, whose purchases over the past year have included a fridge freezer, plant stands, and a dining room table.

The boss of home decoration brand Jurande, she adds: “It’s convenient as I can collect from nearby. I have literally collected from around the corner.”

Facebook does not release standalone financial details for Marketplace, It is in fact free for non-business users to put up a simple sales listing, as the firm makes it money from users simply being on its ecosystem and seeing all the advertisements on the site.

However, Marketplace’s user numbers have soared during the pandemic. Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg recently revealed that Marketplace now has more than one billion global users. This is up from a reported 800 million in 2018, for a service that was only launched in 2016.

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image captionFacebook Marketplace is now a global behemoth

At the same time, eBay says it saw a surge in the number of people in the UK selling second-hand items last year. It found that more than two-thirds of UK users said they had started selling pre-owned goods in 2020 to earn extra cash during the pandemic.

Ebay says that two second-hand fashion items were sold via its UK website and app every second in 2020.

“What we saw was a lot of people in their homes surrounded by their stuff, and looking at it every day and thinking ‘what don’t I need?’, or realising they could make a bit of money out of it,” says eBay’s UK head of consumer selling, Emma Grant.

“Also, it was a time when people became money conscious. There’s also been a surge in sustainable shopping, even beyond the people wanting to do the right thing, of finding joy in unique [second-hand] items.”

image copyrightEmma Grant

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image captionEmma Grant says that many people de-cluttered during the pandemic

For some people, such as 27-year-old Lapoze McTribouy, the pandemic has helped turn a hobby of selling second-hand clothing into a career.

She had been selling via pre-owned clothes website and app, Depop, on-and-off since 2013. But after being put on furlough last year, and then losing her job, she started to focus more on selling vintage clothing.

“I’d wanted to take it more seriously, and take it full time,” says Ms McTribouy, who lives in London. “It was the right time.”

She now sells about six items a week, many of which can fetch up to £150. “I live off this now,” she says.

“It hasn’t been an easy process though. People think you make money straight away, but I’d have months where I’d have to rely on my partner. But then others were, I’m like, ‘we’ve got extra income’.”

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image captionDepop, which was recently sold for $1.62bn, is mainly used by young adults

Ms McTribouy scouts charity shops, eBay and other vintage sellers for stock. “It’s not just selling – you can put your creativity into whether that’s the styling, or the background [you want an item of clothing to have].”

Depop reportedly now has more than 30 million global users, of which 90% are under 26. A UK business, it was bought last month by US ecommerce firm Etsy for $1.62bn (£1.2bn). Etsy’s chief executive Josh Silverman called Depop “the resale home for Gen-Z consumers”.

While selling second-hand goods online has surged over the past year, there also appears to have been a big rise in people giving away things via websites and apps since the pandemic.

Olio is a UK app that allows people to give away surplus food and household items to people living near them. It reported a six-fold increase in the number of non-food items added to the app since March 2020.

Tiphaine Berger, a 38-year-old IT worker from York, says she has seen this boom firsthand.

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“Before the pandemic there was just one other person in the area on Olio,” she says. “But it really boomed in the first lockdown because charity shops were closed. That was when people started donating, and getting rid of stuff.

image copyrightTiphaine Berger

image captionTiphaine Berger hunts for free things on the app Olio

“I use Olio because I hate waste. We de-cluttered and got ride of a lot of glasses and cups, then received plant pots, lamps, lights, picture frames, a new set of cushions.”

But has all this online selling and donating had a negative impact on the UK’s physical charity shops? Have they seen fewer donated items? Oxfam says that, thankfully, it has not, as many people still want to help good causes.

“All of our High Street shops were closed during lockdowns, and were not accepting donations,” says Lorna Fallon, Oxfam’s retail director. But the public has been really supportive and we have seen higher-than-average levels of donated goods since shops re-opened.

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“We also launched a successful, free postal donation service in March that allows supporters to donate items without visiting a shop. Our supporters know that when they donate items to an Oxfam shop they are helping people to escape poverty and survive humanitarian disasters.”

Mintel fashion analyst Tamara Sender says that the big increase in the buying and selling of second-hand clothing online has been led by young people who “in particular have suffered the financial consequences of the pandemic”, and thus “they have become thriftier”.

She adds that, pleasingly, charities are now increasingly being integrated into this new online world. “Depop has opened a British Heart Foundation online shop on its marketplace,” she says. “And [another second-hand clothing seller] Asos Marketplace has also added products from numerous charities to its site.

New Tech Economy is a series exploring how technological innovation is set to shape the new emerging economic landscape.

“As people increasingly buy second-hand fashion online, there is scope for more charity retailers to work with fashion brands to capitalise on the growing appetite for pre-loved fashion.”

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Cancer Research UK is one of the charities on Asos Marketplace. It also has collections on Depop, eBay, and Vestiare.

“Our online sales rose by 11% over the last year, and we’re expecting to increase our online income by £1.5m in the next two years,” says Josephine Mewett, head of retail operations at Cancer Research UK. “By donating pre-loved items and shopping with us, people are not only doing their bit for the environment, but also helping fund life-saving research to beat cancer.”

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Facebook Messenger Is Launching a Split Payments Feature for Users to Quickly Share Expenses

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Facebook Messenger Is Launching a Split Payments Feature for Users to Quickly Share Expenses

Meta has announced the arrival of a new Split Payments feature in Facebook Messenger. This feature, as the name suggests, will let you calculate and split expenses with others right from Facebook Messenger. This feature essentially looks to bring an easier method to share the cost of bills and expenses — for example, splitting a dinner bill with friends. Using this new Split Payment feature, Facebook Messenger users will be able to split bills evenly or modify the contribution for each individual, including their own.

The company took to its blog post to announce the new Split Payment feature in Facebook Messenger. 9to5Mac reports that this new bill splitting feature is still in beta and will be exclusive to US users at first. The rollout will begin early next week. As mentioned, it will help users share the cost of bills, expenses, and payments. This feature is especially useful for those who share an apartment and need to split the monthly rent and other expenses with their mates. It could also come handy at a group dinner with many people.

With Split Payments, users can add the number of people the expense needs to be divided with and, by default, the amount entered will be divided in equal parts. A user can also modify each person’s contribution including their own. To use Split Payments, click the Get Started button in a group chat or the Payments Hub in Messenger. Users can modify the contribution in the Split Payments option and send a notification to all the users who need to make payments. After entering a personalised message and confirming your Facebook Pay details, the request will be sent and viewable in the group chat thread.

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Once someone has made the payment, you can mark their transaction as ‘completed’. The Split Payment feature will automatically take into account your share as well and calculate the amount owed accordingly.


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Tasneem Akolawala is a Senior Reporter for Gadgets 360. Her reporting expertise encompasses smartphones, wearables, apps, social media, and the overall tech industry. She reports out of Mumbai, and also writes about the ups and downs in the Indian telecom sector. Tasneem can be reached on Twitter at @MuteRiot, and leads, tips, and releases can be sent to tasneema@ndtv.com.

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Facebook Owner Meta Launches New Platform, Safety Hub to Protect Women in India

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Meta (formerly Facebook) on Thursday announced a slew of steps to protect woman users on its platform, including the launch of StopNCII.org in India that aims to combat the spread of non-consensual intimate images (NCII).

Meta has also launched the Women’s Safety Hub, which will be available in Hindi and 11 other Indian languages, that will enable more women users in India to access information about tools and resources that can help them make the most of their social media experience, while staying safe online.

This initiative by Meta will ensure women do not face a language barrier in accessing information Karuna Nain, director (global safety policy) at Meta Platforms, told reporters here.

“Safety is an integral part of Meta’s commitment to building and offering a safe online experience across the platforms and over the years the company has introduced several industry leading initiatives to protect users online.

“Furthering our effort to bolster the safety of users, we are bringing in a number of initiatives to ensure online safety of women on our platforms,” she added.

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StopNCII.org is a platform that aims to combat the spread of non-consensual intimate images (NCII).

“It gives victims control. People can come to this platform proactively, hash their intimate videos and images, share their hashes back with the platform and participating companies,” Nain said.

She explained that the platform doesn’t receive any photos and videos, and instead what they get is the hash or unique digital fingerprint/unique identifier that tells the company that this is a known piece of content that is violating. “We can proactively keep a lookout for that content on our platforms and once it”s uploaded, our review team check what”s really going on and take appropriate action if it violates our policies,” she added.

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In partnership with UK Revenge Porn Helpline, StopNCII.org builds on Meta’s NCII Pilot, an emergency programme that allows potential victims to proactively hash their intimate images so they can”t be proliferated on its platforms.

The first-of-its-kind platform, has partnered with global organisations to support the victims of NCII. In India, the platform has partnered with organisations such as Social Media Matters, Centre for Social Research, and Red Dot Foundation.

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Nain added that the company is hopeful that this becomes an industrywide initiative, so that victims can just come to this one central place to get help and support and not have to go to each and every tech platform, one by one to get help and support.

Also, Bishakha Datta (executive editor of Point of View) and Jyoti Vadehra from Centre for Social Research are the first Indian members in Meta”s Global Women”s Safety Expert Advisors. The group comprises 12 other non-profit leaders, activists, and academic experts from different parts of the world and consults Meta in the development of new policies, products and programmes to better support women on its apps.

“We are confident that with our ever-growing safety measures, women will be able to enjoy a social experience which will enable them to learn, engage and grow without any challenges.

“India is an important market for us and bringing Bishakha and Jyoti onboard to our Women”s Safety Expert Advisory Group will go a long way in further enhancing our efforts to make our platforms safer for women in India,” Nain said.

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Facebook Adds New Trend Insights in Creator Studio, Which Could Help Shape Your Posting Strategy

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Facebook’s looking to provide more content insight within Creator Studio with the rollout of a new ‘Inspiration Hub’ element, which highlights trending content and hashtags within categories related to your business Page.

Facebook Inspiration Hub

As you can see in these screenshots, posted by social media expert Matt Navarra, when it becomes available to you, you’ll be able to access the new Inspiration Hub from the Home tab in Creator Studio.

At the right side of the screen, you can see the first of the new insights, with trending hashtags and videos from the last 24 hours, posted by Pages similar to yours, displayed above a ‘See more’ prompt.

When you tap through to the new hub, you’ll have a range of additional filters to check out trending content from across Facebook, including Page category, content type, region, and more.

Facebook Inspiration Hub

That could be hugely valuable in learning what Facebook users are responding to, and what people within your target market are engaging with in the app.

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The Hub also includes insights into trending hashtags, within your chosen timeframe, which may further assist in tapping into trending discussions.

Facebook Inspiration Hub

How valuable hashtags are on Facebook is still up for debate, but you’ll also note that you can filter the displayed results by platform, so you can additionally display Instagram hashtag trends as well, which could be very valuable in maximizing your reach.

Much of this type of info has been available within CrowdTangle, Facebook’s analytics platform for journalists, for some time, but not everyone can access CrowdTangle data, which could make this an even more valuable proposition for many marketers.

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Of course, overall performance really relates to your own creative, and thinking through the action that you want your audience to take when reading your posts. But in terms of detecting new content trends, including hashtag usage, caption length, videos versus image posts, and more, there’s a lot that could be gleaned from these tools and filters.

It’s a significant analytics addition – we’ve asked Facebook for more info on the rollout of the new option, and whether it’s already beyond test mode, etc. We’ll update this post if/when we hear back.

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