Facebook has launched a new Marketplace feature which enables users to buy and sell items with others nearby.
The move into local classified advertising is likely to take further revenue from local newspapers and their websites.
In July Guardian editor Kath Viner attacked the power of Facebook in a speech to the advertising industry saying: “Social media companies have become overwhelmingly powerful in determining what we read and whether publishers make any money.
“The idea of challenging the wide-open worldwide web has been replaced by platforms and publishers who maximize the amount of time you spend with them and find clever ways to stop you leaving. That may be great news for advertisers and the platforms themselves, but it’s a real concern for the news industry.”
Last month UK news publishers warned that their relationship with digital media giants such as Facebook and Google was unsustainable.
In 2015, internet advertising totalled £8.6bn in the UK versus £1.2bn for national newsbrands and their websites (with the vast majority of online spend going to Google and Facebook).
A new Facebook “shop” icon will begin to appear alongside the notifications and messages icon at the bottom of the screen in the social network’s mobile app from today.
Users will be able to see photos of items for sale nearby, as well as search for specific products before messaging the seller for more details.
Those wishing to sell will also be able upload images and descriptions of items, as well as price and location before posting to the Marketplace for free.
Facebook’s Mary Ku said: “Facebook is where people connect, and in recent years more people have been using Facebook to connect in another way: buying and selling with each other. This activity started in Facebook Groups and has grown substantially.
“More than 450 million people visit buy and sell groups each month – from families in a local neighbourhood to collectors around the world.
“To help people make more of these connections, today we’re introducing Marketplace, a convenient destination to discover, buy and sell items with people in your community. Marketplace makes it easy to find new things you’ll love, and find a new home for the things you’re ready part with.”
Facebook has more than 1.7 billion active users, and as a result it has been suggested the new service could become a rival to established ecommerce giants such as eBay.
Facebook said Marketplace would be rolled out to users over the age of 18 in the UK, US, Australia and New Zealand in the “next few days” and would be available on the desktop version of Facebook in the coming months.