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Facebook testing a Local Markets feature to rival Craigslist

Facebook is constantly testing new features and services as it looks to stay relevant and avoid becoming the next MySpace — even with 1.5 billion people logging in, long-term success isn’t always guaranteed. It seems a select number of users are currently seeing a Local Market feature inside the Facebook app, focused on the buying and selling of goods.

It’s actually built on top of local buying and selling groups that already exist on Facebook — it pulls in ads that people have already posted and makes it easier to search through them. Categories including antiques, furniture, household, kids, sporting, mobile, auto and toys were visible to those who got a brief chance to try out the feature, so it looks as though most items can be bought or sold.

Related: Facebook testing digital stores within site as part of e-commerce push

Quite how this new service would sit alongside the likes of eBay, Etsy, Amazon, and Craigslist isn’t immediately clear — even those who got to test the app could only do so for a brief time. However, TechCrunch is reporting that this is a serious new initiative from Mark Zuckerberg and his team, and something they have a long-term plan for.

Eventually, sources say, Local Market will have its own dedicated space in the Facebook app, enabling users to buy or sell whatever they like as easily as posting a status update. Presumably Facebook might take some kind of cut along the way, although that remains to be seen. The local bartering groups that already exist on the social network would certainly give Local Market a good foundation to build on, adding an extra layer of organization and structure to help users find stuff for sale in the local area.

At the same time another app test has bitten the dust: After giving some users the opportunity to display short status updates in the chat column, Facebook has now decided to abandon that idea.