Facebook Marketplace bans Kodi boxes

25 May 2017

When Facebook Marketplace rolled out in October 2016, a number of listing types were explicitly banned: pets, guns and adult services were the most prominent. As of this week, you can now add another type of listing: Kodi boxes.

“Kodi boxes” are gadgets that plug into a computer or smart TV and that contain open-source video streaming software. They’re so named for a software program called Kodi which makes it easy to stream video from any source — including pirated content such as Torrent files. (Kodi was originally known as XBMC, fan-built media center software for Microsoft’s XBox.)

Kodi’s developers don’t condone streaming content from websites with questionable legality, but because Kodi is open-source software, there’s little they can do to stop it.

Kodi can be installed on most streaming boxes; the beef is with devices that come “fully loaded,” meaning someone has put Kodi on the device before shipping it to the buyer. And that’s illegal according to an April 2016 ruling by the European Court of Justice.

It gets a bit tricky — for example, Amazon’s Fire TV Stick is a popular Kodi box, but it’s only against Facebook’s rules if Kodi is pre-installed. Facebook’s new regulations add “products or items that facilitate or encourage unauthorized access to digital media” to the social network’s list of prohibited items.

But, as of this morning, several websites, including Business Insider, The Sun and The Mail, checked Facebook in the U.K. (which is under European Union rules) and turned up hundreds of Kodi box listings.

Facebook is following in the footsteps of Amazon and EBay, which have also changed their policies to prohibit the sale of Kodi boxes.

None of this will stop an individual determined to buy a Kodi box — Chinese websites, such as AliExpress or DealExtreme, still sell them, with free worldwide shipping.

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Brian Blum

Brian Blum covers the U.S., Canada and Israel for Classified Intelligence Report, and contributes to our special reports and research projects. Originally from San Francisco and now based in Jerusalem, he has been with the AIM Group since 2004. He is the president of Blum Interactive Media, specializing in writing and multimedia content development for online, print, video and audio. His clients include newspapers, universities and non-profits. He is currently working on a book about the billion-dollar bankruptcy of a once high-flying Israeli startup.