Australian regulator sues Facebook for hosting fraudulent cryptocurrency ads

Meta is facing legal action for its failure to combat the prevalence of misleading cryptocurrency ads on Facebook that feature celebrities without their permission. These ads allegedly led to fraudulent websites and in one case a victim lost $650,000 to the perpetrators.

The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) targets Meta for its apparent failure to stop this “deceptive conduct”, and even goes so far as to accuse the company of “aiding and abetting” the scammers. Facebook’s apparent inaction comes despite calls from the characters in the ads themselves for the social media giant to take action against them.

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According to the ACCC website (thanks, Web 3 is doing great), the ads were mostly cryptocurrency-centric and get-rich-quick. Prominent Australian media figures, including Chris Hemsworth, used their image to give the false impression that they approved of the scheme. On top of that, fake headlines were used to trick users into believing that the alleged scam would benefit them.


A fake crypto ad on Facebook, claiming to be endorsed by Chris Hemsworth

“It’s a key part of Meta’s business to allow advertisers to target users most likely to click the link in an ad to visit the ad’s landing page, using Facebook’s algorithms” , says ACCC President Rod Sims.

“We allege that Meta’s technology made it possible to target these ads to users most likely to interact with the ads, that Meta assured its users that it would detect and prevent spam, and promote security on Facebook, but that it did not prevent other similar celebrity endorsement cryptocurrency scam ads from being posted,” Sims continues. “Meta should have done more to detect and then remove false or misleading ads on Facebook, so to prevent consumers from falling victim to ruthless scammers.”



A fake cryptocurrency advertisement, claiming to be endorsed by Dick Smith.

In a statement, Meta confirmed that he would defend himself against the allegations. He says he has cooperated with the ACCC and pointed out that he is already using technology to “get ahead of scammers’ attempts to evade [its] detection systems.

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