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updated 3/4/2009 12:55:10 PM ET 2009-03-04T17:55:10

Facebook's Marketplace has relaunched as a "social classifieds" application, letting you see not only what people are selling but why.

Oodle, an online classifieds startup founded by former eBay and Excite executives, revamped the popular online hangout's Marketplace and dubbed it the place to "buy, sell and give things to people you know."

Oodle is betting that Facebook's standing as a trusted online community, along with the assumption that there is a real-life person behind each listing, will prove attractive.

San Mateo, Calif.-based Oodle already powers the classifieds on Facebook's rival, MySpace, and has a network of more than 200 classifieds sites, including those at Local.com and newspapers such as The San Diego Union-Tribune.

Craig Donato, Oodle's co-founder, said his company tried to make Facebook's Marketplace conversational. If you choose to post your listing on your profile, your friends can comment on it, share it with their friends or click "Like" to show their approval, just as they can with any other posted item.

"Social networks are a great destination for classifieds," he said. That's because the ability to see a person's public profile removes the sense of anonymity that comes with buying and selling things on traditional classifieds sites, such as Craigslist.

Users wishing to list an item must answer, "Why are you selling it?"

Its utility, though, is sometimes questionable. A listing for a four-bedroom house in Oklahoma gave the reason "Cause it's vacant and (I) need to put a renter in it," while one for $5 Beanie Babies explained, "I have a lot."

Like Craigslist, Marketplace is designed mainly for people to buy, sell and give things locally. People can still try to arrange transactions across the country, but Donato said no safeguards are in place to ensure no one gets scammed.

Marketplace does not offer a payment system like eBay Inc.'s PayPal; it assumes that transactions are completed in person.

Besides selling old knickknacks, Facebook users can also give things away, ask for them or sell items for a cause by pledging to donate the proceeds to charity.

Whether the new Marketplace will enjoy greater popularity than the previous, Facebook-designed version is yet to be seen. That version, launched in 2007, has not attracted much attention from Facebook's more than 175 million users.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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