Land grabbers are reportedly selling parts of Brazil’s Amazon Rainforest through advertisements on Facebook.
Facebook says that “we are ready to work with local authorities,” but they are not willing to take independent action of their own to halt the trade.
“Our commerce policies require buyers and sellers to comply with laws and regulations,” the Californian tech firm added.
Campaigners have also said that the government of Brazil 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 Kanindé.
Deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon is at a 10-year high. Now, Facebook’s Marketplace has become a selling site for grabbers.
A journalist has recorded footage of a landgrabber, Fabricio Guimarães showing areas he is selling on Facebook.
“There’s no risk of inspection by state agents here,” said Fabricio as he walked through a patch of rainforest he had burnt to the ground.
The land illegally cleared and ready for farming is priced at $35,000.
Fabricio is not a farmer. He has steady middle-class job in a city, and views the rainforest as being an investment opportunity.
Another factor driving the illegal land market is the expectation of amnesty.
One landgrabber 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.