back to article Facebook chucks 1.5 hours' profit at Citizens Advice anti-scam charity to defuse consumer champ's defamation suit

The fake-Facebook-ad-spotting service goes live today, backed by a £3m donation to Citizens Advice coughed by the social network as a result of legal action from MoneySavingExpert scribe Martin Lewis. Lewis settled out of court after hurling a defamation sueball at Facebook for failing to remove ads for "get-rich-quick" scams …

  1. Dan 55 Silver badge

    Hollow laughter

    This is only happening in the UK, on the back of the lawsuit, yet I suspect Facebook will see its success and soon roll it out to the rest of the world.

    No, I think they're just going to treat it as just something that has to be done in one country because they finally have no other choice, like removal of hate speech just in Germany. Facebook is not going to roll it out to other countries, they're quite happy with a wild west as that means engagement and no moderating to detract from profit. The UK doesn't deserve a platform free of hate speech and Germany doesn't deserve a platform free of fake ads.

  2. <script>alert('the register');</script>

    All the Dragons have this issue too. Every other week Deborah Meaden appears on my news feed telling me she wished she'd invested in some 12th rate crypto coin earlier.

    1. horse of a different color

      Perhaps we could crowd source some ads on Facebook with Zuck's face, warning about the prevalence of fake ads on Facebook?

      1. <script>alert('the register');</script>

        I would imagine with Mark’s brand of privacy his face will be on their facial recognition and be blocked...

        Or not, seeing as he prefers to keep himself to himself

        One rule for them and all that...

  3. anothercynic Silver badge

    It's sad...

    ... That Martin has to sue the social borg to get them to react. It's pathetic.

  4. Skwosh

    In summary then

    FaceBook takes money from scammers in return for putting their scam adverts up on their platform.

    The scammers, naturally, hope to make money from their scams – that's why they pay FB in the first place.

    The scammers' activity is, presumably, illegal.

    FaceBook's activity, however, is not at all or even in the slightest little bit illegal. Oh no. Definitely not illegal.

    No sir.

    FaceBook's position is:

    (1) No we can't possibly be held liable for any scams or other illegal activity that may be associated with ads or other content on our platform. Those ads are of course absolutely nothing to do with us because, like all content on our platform, we don't originate it and what's more we have no relationship with the people who do originate it either – well – other than the part where we take their money in return for putting their content up – but after all we're not a fucking charity are we.

    (2) Also, no of course we can't possibly vet all adverts in advance. Are you some sort of technology illiterate moron? Do you have any idea how expensive that would be for us?

    (3) Tell you what – if some of you dumb fucks want to get together in an amateur kind of after-work pond-life-association or whatever and tell us when you think you've spotted something horrid on our platform then knock yourselves out (just so long as we don't have to pay for it in any kind of meaningfully ongoing statutory or profit sapping kind of way). We might even eventually get round to taking some of the stuff you point out down – then again we might not. The main thing here is to keep it all nice and non-binding and really really vague so no one is ever quite sure if we actually have to take anything down or not, certainly not in any kind of if-we-don't-take-it-down-we-go-to-prison kind of way. This way we can make it look like we're doing a massive favour to the community (whatever the fuck that is). But then we're so giving. So virtuous. So so virtuous.

    1. ExampleOne

      Re: In summary then

      I wonder how the "proceeds of crime" laws would work if the scammers activities are illegal?

      I suspect that would also by-pass the legal immunity from liability in the US, as they wouldn't be being done for hosting the ads (clearly protected), they would be being done for taking the money.

      1. jonathan keith

        Re: In summary then

        Ah, but they would be taking the money before the crime has been committed. Ergo, no proceeds of crime.

  5. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge


    Why is the Citizens Advice Bureau a 'scam charity'?!

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: WTF?

      It's Citizens Advice Scams Action, Facebook threw a bunch of cash at them so they will mop up after Facebook's mess.

    2. Captain Scarlet Silver badge

      Re: WTF?

      They will likely already have been dealing with the aftermath of fake adverts.

      i.e a fake ad for passport renewal ad if you search renew Passport in Facebook's search

    3. Jonathan Richards 1 Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Re: WTF?

      Yeah, the words Citizens Advice scam charity, in that order, make for an unfortunate double-take at best, and a ghastly misunderstanding at worst.

      Introduction to the Citizens Advice Service [] for anyone who doesn't know.

    4. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: WTF?

      Same way that Cancer Research is a cancer charity.

  6. Graeme Carstairs

    reporting is pointless

    I have reported these ads before as misleading or scams, the ones with Martin Lewis especially, have been reported maybe 10 or more times.

    Facebooks reply "Thank you for reporting this advert, but we have chacked and it does not violate our community standards. If you like you can hide ads of this type."

    yeh great cheers just means that the next one is exactly the same advert but for a different website.

    So whats new?

    that you can give a detailed report when you report it as misleading or a scam, but if they still dont do anything whats the point?

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: reporting is pointless

      It's getting harder and harder to make contact with any large company at a human level. I recently got what was either a very, very good scam from MBNA or someone had made a mistake and linked my email address to one of their account holders (I don't, and never have had an account with them). I spent a long time trying to find contact details so I could inform them that either they had incorrect data or had been hacked (the email headers were correct, the original source IP address came back as Lloyds Bank), It was impossible to find any kind of contact email address. Even the "report a scam" link in the email bounced back. As a non-customer unable to log-in to "my account", then only way to coontact them was to phone "tried 3 times, wait time in the queue was never less than 15 mins on each try) or to use the official complaints procedure via a web form where I had to enter all sorts or personal details before it could click Send.

      I did get a call back on my mobile a couple of days later confirming they had checked the relevant persons account and the email address that person had entered was the one I was receiving emails at but it was all sorted now after contacting the account holder. But what a palaver!! I only spent the time chasing it because I had three months worth of "Your monthly statement is now ready" or whatever and it may have eventually included other account stuff.

      I did, of course, put a disclaimer in my complaint that all my personal details associated with the complaint were for use ONLY with dealing with the complaint. And a slight, unique spelling error so I'll know if that data gets used elsewhere.

  7. Claverhouse Silver badge

    No particular opinion on this, nor even hate for Facebook, since analogous to Windows users their flock gets what they deserve from choosing the platform; however whilst exonerating FB I rather wonder if the 'Can't vet adverts in advance' bit actually flies.

    It's a long time since I read local newspapers --- car chat, pitiful local politicians pontificating, local sports and endless rot about local schoolchildren, with pictures of elderly people picking up litter in local parks * rather than viciously pulling down the local cookie-cutter MP or hunting down criminal activities --- but I always rather assumed in pre-computer days they gave advertisements the once-over before insertion.



    * Cheerfully and didactically rather than compulsory community service.

  8. Sulky

    El Reg has a short(ish) memory

    Lewis sold the site ages ago.

    1. Is It Me

      Re: El Reg has a short(ish) memory

      He sold it, but still works with/for them and appears on TV as their spokesman.

      I am guessing he still writes for them, which would be why the article described him as a scribe for the site and not the owner (at least as far as I could see).

  9. Chris the bean counter

    All internet sites with 1%+ market share should :-

    1) have KYC rules for advertisers and agent placing the Ad

    2) A public database containing all ads shown + estimated demographics of people viewing ad + criteria details for displaying ad

    3) Revenue paid by all non commercial organisations + lobbying ads by commercial organisations to be published.

  10. RLWatkins

    There is a typo in the first graf of this story.

    "The fake-Facebook-ad-spotting service" should read "The fake Facebook-ad-spotting service".


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