Financial scams on Facebook, the Australian antitrust accuses Meta

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission is suing Mark Zuckerberg's company over advertisements that prompted people to buy cryptocurrencies. Published on March 18, 2022 by Valentina Bernocco Scams on social networks, such as Facebook and Instagram, can cost dear not only to those who fall for them, but also to the platforms that host them. For Meta, the company that owns Facebook and Instagram, this time the problems come not from antitrust accusations or violations of privacy but from having conveyed advertisements for financial scams, in which the names and images of Australian personalities were used to convince people to buy cryptocurrency. Among the exploited personalities are entrepreneur (as well as philanthropist and holder of several aviation records) Dick Smith, journalist and TV presenter David Koch and entrepreneur Andrew Forrest. The legal action brought against Meta as a result of the facts is due to the latter. Facts that actually date back to 2020 and that had already been analyzed by the Guardian: by pretending to take the bait, a journalist from the British newspaper had discovered the probable Russian origin of this scam (which reports to five addresses located in Moscow) and described its operation. The ads posted on Facebook showed fake news articles explaining how famous entrepreneurs and showmen had made money from investing in cryptocurrencies. As discovered by the Guardian, following a link led to a Bitcoin exchange website, which then led to another web page, presented as a trading platform. After signing up for the service and providing their phone details, users received a call from an alleged expert who explained to them how to invest to easily get large sums of money.

In scams of this type, as reported by an investigation by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, it is not uncommon for this first contact to lead to other attempts to push people to put their money into risky investments. Advertising platforms such as those of Facebook and Google struggle to eliminate these scams because authors tend to rely on numerous websites (by previously registering different domains from different providers), so if one of them is blocked it is sufficient to create a new advertising campaign that aims to a different landing page.

After some time, today we return to talk about the case because the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (Accc) has also sued Meta for having been an accomplice of the authors of the scam, without taking action to remove the ads as she should have done. And, moreover, taking advantage of it. According to the president of the antitrust authority, Rod Sims, "Meta is responsible for these advertisements placed on your platform. It is a crucial part of her business to allow advertisers, through Facebook algorithms, to reach the target users who are most likely to click on the link contained in order to visit the ad's landing page. These visits to ad landing pages generate substantial revenue for Facebook. " "We do not want advertisements that try to scam people for money or deceive Facebook users," Meta replied with an official communication. “We use technology to detect and block scam ads and work to stay one step ahead of scammers' attempts to escape our detection systems. We collaborated in the Accc investigation into the matter ".

COMMENT: for too long the Business is Business system was in force, updating the Latin saying Pecunia Non Olet (money doesn't stink). Fortunately, there are people who smell this stench and do what they can to refresh the environment.