When purchasing a product, consumers assume that the item has gone through rigorous testing and regulation, ensuring that the product is effective and safe to use. However, sometimes, products are determined not to be safe. When this occurs, recalls are issued, and the products are pulled from store shelves. But what happens when a dangerous recalled product is still sold in secondary marketplaces such as social media platforms?
Dangerous and defective products can seriously harm or even kill children and adults who use them. When products are recalled, selling them through any channel, including retailers, online stores, and social media platforms, is illegal. Unfortunately, this doesn’t always stop dangerous products from being sold and injuring people.
In June, federal safety regulators at the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) urged the social media platform Meta to block the sale of recalled Boppy loungers on Facebook Marketplace. So far, ten deaths have been linked to the baby pillow. Over 3.3 million Boppy Newborn Loungers were recalled in September 2021. CPSC has shared that the recalled pillows are still for sale on Facebook Marketplace. The CPSC and The Boppy Company have sent numerous requests to Facebook Marketplace and other online marketplaces to remove the recalled products that continue to appear for sale on their sites.
“We call on you to identify recalled and violative products and to prevent their listing by your users,” CPSC commissioners wrote to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, urging Meta to block the sales of recalled products on their platform. “By allowing such products to be posted, you are putting Facebook Marketplace users at risk,” the letter continued.
In August, four lawmakers contacted Meta regarding the Boppy Newborn Lounger. House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Full Committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Innovation, Data, and Commerce Subcommittee Chair Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), and Subcommittee Ranking Member Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) wrote to Meta and other online marketplaces requesting information regarding efforts to end the sale of banned and recalled hazardous products on their platforms.
“To date, the volume of takedown requests has not slowed, and CPSC staff is unaware of any proactive measures Meta has taken to prevent these postings in the future,” the letter stated. “Meta’s failure to prevent recalled products from being posted for sale on its platform has resulted in your users and their children being placed at risk of purchasing and using a product that CPSC has found to pose a serious risk of injury and potential death.”
The letter also addresses other dangerous children’s products, including the Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play Sleeper, an inclined infant sleeper associated with approximately 100 infant deaths. The Rock ‘n Play was originally recalled in 2019, and the company re-announced the Rock ‘n Play recall in 2023.
In response, a spokesperson for Meta stated that “like other platforms where people can buy and sell goods, there are instances of people knowingly or unknowingly selling recalled goods on Marketplace. We take this issue seriously, and when we find listings that violate our rules, we remove them.”
During a USA Today investigation in 2021, reporters located listings of recalled children’s products regularly listed for sale on Meta’s Facebook Marketplace. Fourteen different recalled products were listed and available for purchase. Reporters involved in the investigation could purchase recalled products that contributed to the deaths of at least 121 children and hundreds more serious injuries and incidents.
After Meta announced plans to lay off more than 21,000 employees, advocates have argued that these layoffs will affect the safety of users. Meta is not the only tech giant to reduce their workforce. Amazon, Alphabet (Google’s parent company), and X (formerly known as Twitter) have reduced their workforce drastically. Many of the workers laid off were part of teams focused on safety, internet trust, and ethics.
What To Do If You Find a Recalled Product for Sale Online
If you are shopping on Meta’s Facebook Marketplace or another online platform, you should verify that the product you want to purchase is not part of a recall. To do this, visit the CPSC website to search for the product. If you discover it’s part of a recall, do not purchase the product and report it to CPSC online or call (800) 638-2772. If possible, include a screenshot of the product listing and a website link to the page where you found the recalled product listing.
When purchasing products, consumers shouldn’t have to worry about it causing an injury or fatality. But with recalled products still for sale on online platforms, it’s best to stay vigilant and check for recalls before making a purchase.
At Herman Herman Katz, our Louisiana product liability attorneys are experienced in handling defective and dangerous product injury cases. For more information or a free case review, call 844-943-7626 or fill out our online contact form.
Jed Cain is a partner with Herman, Herman & Katz, LLC. He has dedicated his career to representing injured folks and their families.