Internet retailers are receiving questions over their approaches to recalled products. The House Energy and Commerce Committee has sent letters to Amazon, Ebay, Meta, Walmart and other online shopping portals asking about their efforts to thwart sales of recalled and banned goods on their platforms. They're particularly concerned that Meta allegedly failed to stop Facebook Marketplace sales of two recalled child products, the Fisher-Price Rock 'n Play sleeper and Boppy Newborn Lounger.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) recalled the Rock 'n Play in 2019, and the Newborn Lounger in 2021. However, it says the takedown request rate (an average of 1,000 per month) hasn't slowed, and that there haven't been any "proactive measures" to bar sales. The Rock 'n Play has been linked to roughly 100 baby deaths. The members of Congress, including committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers, are concerned that online marketplaces may be putting children and all users at risk by doing too little to stop these sales.
The House representatives ask all the companies to detail their current efforts to block sales of recalled products, including the presence of dedicated staff. The politicians also want to know what the companies will do in the future and whether there's any legal uncertainty about how to tackle the problems. The letters ask if the companies are willing to work with the committee on a solution to the problem. The companies have been told to respond no later than August 31st.
In a statement to Engadget, a Meta spokesperson says that sales of recalled goods aren't unique to Facebook Marketplace. The representative says Meta takes the issue "seriously" and pulls listings that violate its rules. Ebay tells Engadget it takes recalls "very seriously" and uses a combination of AI and investigators to spot potentially unsafe listings. It hoped to work with the House committee on these issues.
The enquiries come just as Amazon is facing a potential antitrust lawsuit over its sales practices, and amid greater effort to scrutinize tech giants' behavior. Meta has also been scaling back some of its shopping features, including the shutdowns of live shopping on Facebook and Instagram. Those closures are cost-cutting efforts, but they also leave the company's remaining commerce initiatives in a more fragile position.
Update 8/22 5PM ET: We've updated the story with a statement from Ebay.