Australian regulator sues Facebook for posting fraudulent cryptocurrency ads


Meta is facing legal action for failing to combat the prevalence of misleading cryptocurrency ads on Facebook that feature celebrities without their permission. These ads are said to lead to fraudulent websites, and in one case the victim lost $650,000.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) accuses Meta of not clearly stopping this “misleading behavior” and even accuses the company of “aiding” scammers. Facebook’s apparent inaction comes despite requests from the advertisers themselves to take action against them.

According to site ACCC, the ads were mostly about cryptocurrencies and get-rich-quick schemes. The attackers used images of well-known Australian media figures, including Chris Hemsworth, to give the false impression that they were endorsing the scheme. In addition, fake headers were used to trick users into believing that the alleged scam would benefit them.

A key part of Meta’s business is enabling advertisers to target users who are most likely to click on a link in an ad to visit the ad’s landing page using Facebook’s algorithms. We contend that Meta’s technology made it possible to target these ads to the users most likely to engage in ads, that Meta assured its users that it would detect and prevent spam and promote security on Facebook, but it was unable to prevent other similar ads from being posted about celebrity-backed cryptocurrency scams. Meta needed to do more to detect and then remove false or misleading Facebook ads so consumers don’t fall prey to ruthless scammers.

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