Facebook Marketplace gets new AI-powered features


Two years after its introduction, Facebook Marketplace has become a go-to spot for people who want to connect with their neighbors to buy or sell items. More than one in three people on Facebook in the US use it every month, according to the social media giant (for reference, there are 241 million monthly active users on Facebook in the US and Canada ). To help facilitate a digital marketplace with so many participants, Facebook has turned to AI.

This week, Facebook is using AI to introduce price-range suggestions and auto-categorization for Marketplace sellers. So, for instance, if a seller were to create a listing for a home office chair, Marketplace would suggest a price range based on similar chairs recently sold on the platform. It would also automatically categorize the item under “furniture” based on the photo and description.

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The autosuggest feature should help bump up listings on Marketplace, Facebook suggests. Before the feature was enabled, 7 to 9 percent of sellers abandoned their listings before completing them, the company noted in a blog post.

Facebook is also testing a feature that would enable a user to take a picture of an item and find, via Marketplace’s AI-powered suggestions, a similar item for sale nearby.

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The company is also using AI to bolster security in Marketplace by detecting and removing listing that violate policies.

Already, Facebook Marketplace relies on computer vision and natural language processing (NLP) to create a product index that informs Marketplace search results. Both NLP and computer vision are necessary to deliver the best results, Facebook explained in a blog post, given how sparse some listings can be: The description may be as vague and as brief as “baby stuff.” Facebook said Marketplace has seen a nearly 100 percent increase in consumer engagement with listings since its product indexing system was rolled out.

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Meanwhile, Marketplace also leverages M, the automated assistant within Facebook Messenger, to help buyers and sellers. For instance, if a buyer chatting with a seller finds out that a product is no longer available, M may prompt the buyer to check out similar items on Marketplace.

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