Meet the Buy Nothing groups of Facebook

These Facebook Groups allow users to exchange goods without paying. Now, it wants to offer the service...but off of Mark Zuckerberg’s platforms.


May 7, 2021

There are groups where you can snag Ikea furniture, broken blenders, and gift wrap — all for free.

It’s called the Buy Nothing Project: a collection of 6k+ affiliated Facebook groups that allow ~4m members to gift or lend practically anything.

Protocol recently caught up with the co-founders of the Buy Nothing movement, Rebecca Rockefeller and Liesl Clark.

The ‘gifting economy’ on Facebook

The project started around 2008 after the 2 co-founders’ less-than-ideal experience using Freecycle — a kind of Craigslist exclusively for free stuff.

The 2 then experimented with their own gifting group at local farmers markets, where members gifted everything from oysters to fresh pasta. “Gifting” is the practice of offering goods freely with no expectation of repayment — where the Burners at?

In 2013, Rockefeller and Clark moved the community to a Facebook group. There — fueled by the FB algo — the movement exploded, spawning lookalikes across the nation and 44 countries. Eventually, they created a website that formalized the Buy Nothing ethos.

But giving for the good of the people…

… is not really Facebook’s vibe.

Since the fallout of the 2016 election, the Buy Nothing Project has been looking for ways to get off of Facebook, citing data and privacy concerns.

Rockefeller and Clark have teamed up with members of the Buy Nothing community to develop an app that allows users to connect with others in their area, no Zuckin’ FB profile required.

Even so, Buy Nothing leadership has assured worried members that their beloved FB groups will remain post-app launch later this month.

Get your gifts ready.

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