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Facebook Marketplace wants to be the new Craigslist

After testing the buy-and-sell bazaars in a few areas over the past year, Facebook is rolling out Marketplace to the US, UK, Australia and New Zealand.

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Sceenshots of the new Marketplace.

Facebook

Dust off your Tiffany lamps. Facebook is throwing a giant neighborhood tag sale.

The social network on Monday unveiled Marketplace, a new section of its mobile app that lets people list their furniture, cars and clothes for sale to any Facebook users in their area. Marketplace adds to popular buy-and-sell groups already on the site -- but, unlike these groups, doesn't require users to get approved before joining.

The Marketplace tab will appear prominently on the bottom of Facebook's iOS and Android apps in the US, UK, Australia and New Zealand. More countries and a desktop version will be coming in the future.

Facebook has no immediate plans to take a cut from sales on Marketplace or serve ads on Marketplace pages. Despite not making money directly from the new initiative (at least for now), Facebook could use Marketplace as another reason for people to keep coming back to the site, while also helping it grow its giant user base of 1.7 billion users.

The company wanted to create Marketplace after seeing all the activity in the buy-and-sell groups, and use the feature as another part of its mission to connect the world, a Facebook spokesperson said. Facebook said Monday that more than 450 million people visit such groups every month.

Marketplace adds to a new crop of competitors to Craigslist, with startups Letgo and OfferUp also jumping into local second-hand sales. But with Facebook maintaining a huge base of users, it may give all these competitors -- and eBay -- a run for their money.

That would mark a change of pace. Facebook has been trying for years to become a bigger e-commerce player, but hasn't found much traction. In 2007, it started a similar market, also called Marketplace, which didn't take off. The expansion of the new Marketplace comes after Facebook tested out the program in New Zealand, parts of the US and Chile over the past year.

Facebook, OfferUp and Letgo could offer more protections than Craigslist, since buyers and sellers have profiles in all three of these apps. Still, Facebook will remain fairly hands-off when it comes to making a sale. If you want to buy something on Marketplace, you'll need to message the seller, then figure out a pickup location and haggle over price. Facebook doesn't have anything to do with delivery or payment.

Facebook does have reporting tools to flag questionable items and bad sellers. It also already has commerce policies, so no selling animals, guns or alcohol.