The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) is suing Meta – previously known as Facebook – over a series of crypto scam advertisements that used the likenesses or images of famous individuals to allegedly promote certain products and suck traders in.
Australia Files Suit Against Facebook
One of the ads featured Australian public figures like Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest and businessman Dick Smith. Both have tried filing separate cases or pressing charges against Facebook, though the statuses of those cases are not known at the time of writing. In any case, the ACCC serves as the financial watchdog for Australia, and regulators aren’t too happy about how the social media giant has behaved lately.
The organization says the crypto ads promoted money-making schemes designed to mislead users of the social media platform by making them believe they were somehow associated with celebrity affiliates. In truth, these well-known individuals never gave permission for their likenesses to be used by those running the scams.
Rod Sims – chair of the ACCC – says that it is now filing suit against Facebook (Meta) given that the company likely knew what was going on and never did anything about it. In an interview, he said that Facebook should take responsibility for actions like these and work to better understand what’s being posted on its platform. He said:
It is a key part of Meta’s business to enable advertisers to target users who are most likely to click on the link in an ad to visit the ad’s landing page using Facebook algorithms. Those visits to landing pages from ads generate substantial revenue for Facebook.
Doing Nothing to Stop the Ads?
By allowing the ads to run, Facebook is potentially in breach of the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act (ASIC Act). Sims continued with:
We allege that the technology of Meta enabled these ads to be targeted to users most likely to engage with the ads, that Meta assured its users it would detect and prevent spam and promote safety on Facebook, but it failed to prevent the publication of other similar celebrity endorsement cryptocurrency scam ads on its pages or warn users. Meta should have been doing more to detect and then remove false or misleading ads on Facebook to prevent consumers from falling victim to ruthless scammers. Apart from resulting in untold losses to consumers, these ads also damage the reputation of the public figures falsely associated with the ads. Meta failed to take sufficient steps to stop fake ads featuring public figures, even after those public figures reported to Meta that their names and images were being featured in celebrity endorsement cryptocurrency scam ads.
In recent news, Facebook had worked hard to bring Libra – an international crypto payment project – to light, but ultimately failed to do so and wound up selling all its Libra-based assets privately.