Facebook will now ban the sale of protected Amazon rainforest land on Marketplace

“Today, we are announcing measures to curb attempts to sell land in ecological conservation areas within the Amazon rainforest on Facebook (FB) Marketplace,” the company said in a blog post Friday, adding that it will update its commerce policies to “explicitly prohibit” the sale or purchase of land on its platforms (including Instagram and WhatsApp) that is earmarked for ecological conservation. Land is among the many products available on Marketplace, with everything from furniture to used cars also on sale.
The announcement comes months after an investigation by the BBC found large parcels of land, including some that cover hundreds of acres within national forests, available for purchase on Facebook Marketplace.

CNN has not independently verified the Marketplace listings.

Facebook said Friday that it will check listings against an “authoritative database of protected areas” from the United Nations Environment Program to confirm whether they violate its new policy.

“We are announcing this today, and enforcement will now begin to ramp up,” the company said. “Over time, we will observe how this process works and make improvements as appropriate.”

The announcement comes at the end of a particularly difficult week for Facebook, with the company facing intense scrutiny from lawmakers after whistleblower Frances Haugen’s testimony in the Senate about the harms its platforms cause and a massive outage of its major services on Monday.

Oil prices fall after China announces historic sale from precious supply of reserves

The State Bureau of Grain and Material Reserves said late Thursday that it will release crude oil from its national reserve in batches. It intends to sell the oil to refining and petrochemical companies.

“Putting national reserve crude oil on the market through open auction sales will better stabilize the domestic market supply and demand and effectively guarantee national energy security,” the bureau said in a statement, adding that releasing oil would “ease the pressure of rising raw material prices for production companies.”

Oil prices fell to their lowest levels in two weeks on Thursday after China’s announcement. Brent, the global benchmark, fell 1.6%, while US oil dropped 1.7%. They recovered slightly, last trading at $71.85 and $68.45 per barrel, respectively.

The government didn’t say how much oil it would eventually sell, but hoarding barrels is critical for China. The country is heavily reliant on foreign oil to power its economy, and has been working for years to bolster its emergency stockpile of oil reserves. China doesn’t release a lot of data about its oil reserves, but said in 2017 that it had established nine major reserve bases around the country, with a combined capacity of 37.7 million tons.
The country has also said that it wanted to have 85 million tons of oil in its emergency stockpile by the end of 2020, which is almost as much as the United States keeps in its Strategic Petroleum Reserve — the world’s largest backup oil supply.
But China’s economy is contending with several headaches right now. Inflation is soaring, and the country’s producer price index hit a 13-year high last month, driven by rising commodity prices. Energy costs are also spiking, and demand is so high that some provinces have even experienced power shortages.
Despite Beijing’s efforts to contain soaring costs, factory inflation remains elevated. The government has warned that high costs for raw materials such as energy and petrochemical products will exacerbate growth and employment challenges facing manufacturers — especially small and medium-sized businesses.

Rising prices also complicate any effort the government may consider to prevent an economic slowdown with more fiscal and monetary support. Expansionary policy intended to bolster growth — such as increased government spending or expanded money supply — will only increase inflation further.

China’s economy has already been rattled by other issues, too, including an outbreak of the Delta coronavirus variant and the shipping crisis.

An official survey of manufacturing activity last month indicated the lowest rate of growth since the start of the pandemic, while a private survey showed the first contraction since April 2020. Services industries also suffered, with the official non-manufacturing survey registering the first contraction since February 2020.

500 million LinkedIn users’ data is for sale on a hacker site

The sale of the data was first reported on Tuesday by cybersecurity news and research site CyberNews, which said that an archive including user IDs, names, email addresses, phone numbers, genders, professional titles and links to other social media profiles was being auctioned off on the forum for a four-figure sum.
According to LinkedIn, the database for sale “is actually an aggregation of data from a number of websites and companies.” The data from LinkedIn users includes only information that people listed publicly in their profiles, the professional social media site, which is owned by Microsoft (MSFT), said in a Thursday statement.

“This is not a LinkedIn data breach, and no private member account data from LinkedIn was included in what we’ve been able to review,” the company said.

The news comes just days after a separate incident in which data scraped from more than 500 million Facebook users in 2019 — including phone numbers, birthdays, emails and other information — was posted publicly on a website used by hackers. While these kinds of data are less sensitive than, say, credit card details or social security numbers, information like phone numbers can still be exploited by bad actors, including for robocall scams.

LinkedIn has more than 675 million members, according to its website, meaning that around three quarters of its users’ information may be included in the database.

Social media companies have tools in place aimed at preventing scrapers — LinkedIn on its terms page details “technical measures and defenses” against such abuse — but they don’t always work.

The company said that “any misuse of our members’ data, such as scraping” violates its terms of service, which prohibit third-party software, bots, browser extensions or plug-ins that scrape data from the site.

“When anyone tries to take member data and use it for purposes LinkedIn and our members haven’t agreed to, we work to stop them and hold them accountable,” LinkedIn said in its statement.

The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment about whether it will alert users whose data was scraped and is included in the database for sale.