Facebook has been criticised for the prevalence of ‘fake news’ on its site. Another problem is ‘fake ads‘. The difference is that advertisements go through scrutiny before they’re posted. But despite this extra checking, and despite warnings from those affected, the site has still been publishing scam adverts.
One such affected person is Martin Lewis – the MoneySavingExpert founder. He’s now seeking ‘exemplary damages’ to try and prevent this from happening to anyone else.
They were warned
Lewis is suing Facebook for defamation. Scammers have used his image in “get rich quick” schemes like the one below:
The Guardian reported that Lewis explained:
I get about five messages a day from people saying, ‘I’ve just seen your Bitcoin ad and wanted to check it.’ If that is the number who get through to me, how many more must be just taken in?
He also spoke about Facebook’s unwillingness to take responsibility:
What is particularly pernicious about Facebook is that it says the onus is on me, so I have spent time and effort and stress repeatedly to have them taken down.
It is facilitating scams on a constant basis in a morally repugnant way.
This lines up with what Facebook itself said. Namely when it:
explained to Martin Lewis that he should report any adverts that infringe his rights and they will be removed.
The threat of a court case may be working though, as Facebook said that:
only last week [we] confirmed that several adverts and accounts that violated our advertising policies had been taken down.
Not everyone can afford to take Facebook to court, however. Lewis’s solicitor highlighted this issue when he said:
Exemplary damages are being sought. This means we will ask the court to ensure they are substantial enough that Facebook can’t simply see paying out damages as just the ‘cost of business’ and carry on regardless.
Lewis has said he will donate any damages to anti-fraud charities.
And Facebook has been warned before
Facebook and its founder Mark Zuckerberg are known for issuing apologies. The problem is that they tend to apologise for situations spiralling out of control rather than dealing with them before that.
In March 2017, Forbes reported on the prevalence of scam ads on Facebook. This problem had already been pointed out the previous summer. In January 2018, Independent.ie reported that the company was still profiting from con artists running advertisement scams.
And it doesn’t stop there
Worryingly, this isn’t the only scandal Facebook knew about in advance. The UK health secretary recently said Facebook is “turning a blind eye” to young children being “exposed to harmful emotional side effects” of social media. Facebook is also alleged to have allowed “flagrant breaches” of age limits. But this is just scratching the surface.
misinformation and hate speech on Facebook, which pushes whatever content keeps users on the site longest — a potentially damaging practice in countries with weak institutions.
In Sri Lanka, where such violence has been taking place, the government has “repeatedly” asked for a direct line to Facebook. Facebook has repeatedly refused. A Sri Lankan researcher into the matter said:
You report to Facebook, they do nothing.
There’s incitements to violence against entire communities and Facebook says it doesn’t violate community standards.
A pattern has emerged of Facebook continually ignoring warnings – of continually pursuing the path of least cost. People are being scammed; children are being exposed, and lives are being lost.
Facebook is an amazing tool. If it were to disappear, we’d need a very similar site to perform the same functions. The people who run Facebook, however, have repeatedly proven themselves unfit to wield the power they hold.
Extracting “exemplary damages” from the company would be a welcome punishment. But there’s possibly no fine big enough to turn these people into suitable custodians of global communication.
– Join The Canary, so we can keep holding the powerful to account.
Featured image via Anthony Quintano – Flickr
We need your help to keep speaking the truth
Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.
Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.
We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.
In return, you get:
* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop
Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.
With your help we can continue:
* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do
We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?