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Facebook Quietly Adds Piracy Devices to List of Banned Sale Items

Facebook has joined the fight against illegal video-streaming devices.

The social behemoth recently added a new category to products it prohibits users to sell under its commerce policy: Products or items that “facilitate or encourage unauthorized access to digital media.”

The change in Facebook’s policy, previously reported by The Drum, appears primarily aimed at blocking the sale of Kodi-based devices loaded with software that allows unauthorized, free access to piracy-streaming services. Kodi is free, open-source media player software. The app has grown popular among pirates, who modify the code with third-party add-ons for illegal streaming.

Even with the ban officially in place, numerous “jail-broken” Kodi-enabled devices remain listed in Facebook’s Marketplace section, indicating that the company has yet to fully enforce the new ban.

A Facebook rep confirmed the policy went into effect earlier this month. In addition, the company updated its advertising policy to explicitly ban ads for illegal streaming services and devices.

Amazon and eBay similarly have moved to ban sales of illegal video-streaming devices. “Products offered for sale on Amazon should not promote, suggest the facilitation of, or actively enable the infringement of or unauthorized access to digital media or other protected content,” the e-commerce company says in its policy regarding the sale of electronics.

The piracy world has shifted markedly away from peer-to-peer file sharing downloads to streaming. In 2016, internet users worldwide made 107.9 billion to streaming piracy sites, according to antipiracy technology vendor Muso. By contrast, there were 34.2 billion visits to public and private torrent-based download services, the firm estimates.

“It is great to see Facebook follow the likes of Amazon and Ebay in making changes to their policies to prohibit the sale of illicit streaming devices on their platforms,” Kieron Sharp, CEO of U.K. intellectual property protection org FACT, said in statement. “Unfortunately, the fast-paced development of [social media] sites are being exploited by opportunists for criminal activity which needs to be disrupted.”

Under its commerce policy, Facebook also forbids the sale of any “non-physical items,” including digital media as well as services and subscriptions.

Other items Facebook bans for sale on the Marketplace include: illegal, prescription or recreational drugs; alcohol; tobacco items and related paraphernalia; weapons, ammunition or explosives; products “with overtly sexualized positioning”; and animals.

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