Australia’s competition watchdog filed a lawsuit on Friday against Facebook owner Meta Platforms, alleging that the social media giant failed to stop scammers using its platform to promote fake ads to people.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said that ads, which endorse investments in cryptocurrency or money-making schemes, may mislead Facebook users into believing they were promoted by famous Australians.
The lawsuit, filed in Federal Court, accuses Facebook of “aided and abetted or willfully false or deceptive conduct and representation by advertisers,” the ACCC said in a statement. The gist of our case is that Meta is responsible for these. ads that it publishes on its platform,” said ACCC President Rod Sims. Meta said that any advertisement that deceives people with money or misleads users violates its policies and the company uses technology to detect such posts and Block them, adding that they have “cooperated with the ACCC’s investigation into this matter to date.”
“We will review the most recent filing by the ACCC and intend to defend the proceedings,” a META spokesperson said in an emailed statement.
The ACCC said the ads used images of several Australian business leaders, TV hosts and politicians and included links to fake media articles that contained quotes for the personalities.
The regulator said that the users who signed up were approached by scammers to persuade them to deposit funds in the fraudulent schemes.
Sims said, “We know of a consumer who lost over $650,000 ($480,000) as a result of one of these scams … This is embarrassing.
Australian iron ore magnate Andrew Forrest, chairman of Fortescue Metals Group, launched criminal proceedings against Facebook last month for using scam ads.
His image for promoting cryptocurrency schemes. The corporate regulator, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), typically handles financial fraud complaints against companies. The ACCC, which is seeking financial penalty, said it was given temporary powers to file suit.
Facebook earlier this week announced a program to help train Australian political candidates and influencers on cybersecurity to prevent the spread of potential misinformation during the campaign for the country’s upcoming federal election.