The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has sued Meta Platforms (FB) and Meta Platforms Ireland, alleging they engaged in false, misleading or deceptive conduct by publishing scam advertisements featuring prominent Australian public figures, according to a statement published Friday.
- The ACCC alleges the ads, which promoted investment in cryptocurrency or money-making schemes, were likely to mislead Facebook users into believing the advertised schemes were associated with well-known people featured in the ads, such as businessman Dick Smith, TV presenter David Koch and former NSW Premier Mike Baird. The schemes were in fact scams, and the people featured in the ads had never approved or endorsed them.
- The ads contained links that took Facebook users to a fake media article that included quotes attributed to the public figure featured in the ad endorsing a cryptocurrency or money-making scheme. Users were then invited to sign up and were subsequently contacted by scammers who used high pressure tactics, such as repeated phone calls, to convince users to deposit funds into the fake schemes.
- “The essence of our case is that Meta is responsible for these ads that it publishes on its platform,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said. “It is a key part of Meta’s business to enable advertisers to target users who are most likely to click on the link in an ad to visit the ad’s landing page, using Facebook algorithms. Those visits to landing pages from ads generate substantial revenue for Facebook.”
- The ACCC complaint accuses Meta, the compamy formerly known as Facebook, of failing to prevent "publication of fake ads even after the celebrities reported similar false, misleading or deceptive ads to Meta."
- The ACCC is seeking unspecified declarations, injunctions, penalties, costs and other orders.
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