Facebook parent company Meta is being sued for posting “fraudulent celebrity crypto ads” by Australia’s competition watchdog.
Facebook is accused of running ads encouraging people to invest in cryptocurrencies and other money-making schemes that were actually scams, costing one consumer more than AUS$650,000 (£365).
The celebrities featured in the ads had “never endorsed or endorsed them”, according to the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), which announced the legal proceedings against Goal on Friday.
Read more: Public warned against criminals using celebrities to promote fake investments
The ads Facebook is accused of running Australia led “users to a fake news article that included quotes attributed to the public figure featured in the ad endorsing a cryptocurrency or money-making system,” the ACCC said.
“Users were then required to register and then the scammers contacted them and used high-pressure tactics, such as repeated phone calls, to convince users to deposit funds into the fake schemes,” the watchdog added.
Regulator president Rod Sims, who launched the action on his last day at Regulator, said: “The crux of our case is that Meta is responsible for these ads that it runs on its platform.”
The social media platform is accused of knowing celebrity endorsement scams were running on Facebook, but not doing enough to address the problem.
It comes at a time when UK tech companies need to be forced to deal with fraudulent advertisements thanks to the new online safety bill.
Martin Lewis, the founder of MoneySavingExpert in the UK, previously settled a lawsuit against Facebook for having spread fraudulent advertising in his name and image. Australian mining magnate Andrew Forrest is currently suing Facebook in a similar case.
Parliament’s Treasury Committee accused the government of don’t face an alarming growth in fraud across the country.
MEPs have suggested that online companies, including Meta and Google, should compensate people who have been duped by scams advertised through their platforms.
However, instead of paying compensation, the parliamentarians pointed out that the companies received additional advertising funds from the public purse to warn of such scams.
The Financial Conduct Authority paid more than £1.1m to companies including Google, Twitter, TikTok and Meta to run anti-scam ads between 2019 and 2021.
Google has since offered the regulator $3m (£2.2m) in free ad credits in a move that MPs say should be copied by other platforms.
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