back to article Meta sued for 'aiding and abetting' crypto scammers

The Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC) has filed suit against The Artist Formerly Known As Facebook over its publication of ads allegedly featuring celebrities peddling a supposedly surefire-route to cryptocurrency riches. The regulator has gone after Meta under Oz consumer law that prohibits false, misleading …

  1. PatrickE

    Go ACCC! I'm sick of these ads. No matter how many times one reports to Facescam, the ads keep reappearing. Lest we forget, Facebook does actually make money off of these ads, so they share responsibility.

    1. Rafael #872397

      Can we do Alphabet next?

      I for one am sick and tired of spam messages with either a link to a Google Document (never clicked, probably contains the spam contents?) or a fake sender and a "contact us at for your bazillion US DOLLAR cash prize".

      No way to report either case. Spammers rejoice.

    2. iron Silver badge

      There is a very, very simple way to avoid seeing those adverts, as proof I have never seen one. No I'm not talking about an ad blocker but something even easier that every internet user can follow...

      Don't use Facebook.

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "No matter how many times one reports to Facescam, the ads keep reappearing."

      Yes, always report them. Then if/when it gets to court, as it is (again), Facebook Meta can't say they didn't know. On the other hand, considering the huge number of scam ads on all these "services", it's telling that it only ever seems to be actioned or end up in court when 'slebs are affected.

  2. chuckufarley

    I am Shocked...

    ...Shocked I tell you, that Zuck made money off of the pain of suffering of others.

    1. chivo243 Silver badge

      Re: I am Shocked...

      Don't all Ivy League graduates?

  3. Potemkine! Silver badge

    Technology to detect and block scam ads

    Having such a technology (which doesn't work) isn't enough to deflect responsibility. Feckbook displayed these ads, it's the fact: it's responsible of that. IMNSHO, Feckbook is an accomplice of the scammers, it took advantage of this to collect money. I would suggest the Stake, but I'm not sure it's allowed in Australia?

  4. Richard 12 Silver badge

    They've never taken any down

    That I've reported.

    Every single report, the official response was "Does not go against community standards"

    Therefore, Meta are guilty and the fine should be astronomical.

    1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      Re: They've never taken any down

      I think the fine should be at least five astronomes!

    2. Solviva Bronze badge

      Re: They've never taken any down

      I went through a period of maybe a couple of weeks where most days 3/4 ads I was served up were crypto scams. All by (different) seemingly innocent pages.

      Click report as a scam. That ad disappears, only to be replaced by a different scam ad on the next visit. Whackamole gets boring fast.

      Maybe a week later up pops a notification, "We've *reviewed* your report... oh great. Click on it

      "Thanks for reporting this ad, while we're *reviewing* [hang on, you just said you'd reviewed, done dusted, finito, now apparently you're still in the active process of reviewing wtf?] this, it won't be taken down."

      Of course not, you wouldn't want to lose your precious ad revenue now would you...

      1. Huw L-D

        Re: They've never taken any down

        Same here,

        Ads claiming to be supported by various slebs (sic). Domain in the ad is

        Blatant nonsense, that FB don't appear to give a flying aardvark about.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Does not go against community standards"

      So they say that the community is OK with that? Weasels!

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: "Does not go against community standards"

        No, because the "community" don't set the standards, Facebook does. Another nail in their coffin when it gets to court, along with the multiple "report this ad" reports so they can't deny they were told about them.

    4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: They've never taken any down

      Every single report, the official response was "Does not go against community standards"

      Clearly their standards are sewer-low and allow crimes to be committed while blocking the accounts of people who dare to show how to properly breast-feed a baby.

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge

        Re: They've never taken any down

        At least you can fully expose yourself without showing any body parts, whether they're considered indecent by feckmeta or not.

    5. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells Silver badge

      Re: They've never taken any down

      The number of times I've reported antisemitism or similar on Twitter that "doesn't go against our community standards" is appalling.

  5. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "the celebs depicted without permission have suffered reputational harm"

    Well, unless they are or are associated with the Kardashians.

    The Kardashian is already rock bottom when it comes to reputation.

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge

      The Kardashian is already rock bottom

      Well, I've accidentally seen a Kardashian bottom once, and it wiggled just like rocks don't.

  6. Andy The Hat Silver badge

    At least they have a great system

    The fact that the same ads appeared all over the world, were regularly reported (with no exageration I must have reported them a million times...) but still the FB "system" didn't take the ads down clearly shows lack of either ability or willingness to do so.

    Either the system didn't work, it was clear it failed to do so and intervention should have been made but wasn't or the system did work but wasn't being applied to ads raising millions of dollars for FB across the world. Thinking about these two scenarios I can't decide which is more likely ...

  7. Howard Sway Silver badge

    Facebook knew about the situation, but still did not act to stop the ads appearing

    If this allegation is true, then they should have to repay every last cent that was scammed out of their users. It might help to 'focus the minds' of their board a little about their attitude that they have no responsibility for the content of the ads they publish, as it would inhibit the huge torrent of advertising cash that flows into their pockets every second.

    1. Wade Burchette

      Re: Facebook knew about the situation, but still did not act to stop the ads appearing

      I think a more appropriate punishment would be to permanently bar "Meta" from ever tracking you, using your location to serve ads, or scan your content to serve ads. This will hit them will it hurts the most; a one-time fine will be a tax write-off.

  8. DevOpsTimothyC

    I'd go as far as saying repay every cent plus a percentage as damages

  9. Magani

    Farcebork Technology Fail

    "We use technology to detect and block scam ads and work to get ahead of scammers' attempts to evade our detection systems."

    All I can say is they do a piss-poor job of it. My 10 year old grand-daughter could do better! Next they'll be saying they have a 'Centre of Excellence'.

    Like others above, I've reported these generally well-known folks spruiking dubious schemes, and had much the same response. Pathetic.

    I hope Twiggy Forrest takes them to the cleaners.

  10. anthonyhegedus

    Facebook employs the worst AI in the business. It uses a little-known AI technique called "keyword matching". So for example, if an advert has the phrase "genuine Microsoft Office Pro Plus Extra 365 Professional only £5.95", because it doesn't match on the keywords "This is a scam", it's not flagged. But this is OK, because they sold an advert, and can report this to their shareholders.

    Conversely, if I refer to my cat as "a cheeky monkey", it does a keyword match on "monkey" which can be used as a racial insult, and puts me in Facebook Jail for 28 days for "Bullying and harassment". But that's OK because they count it in their reports and can boast that they blocked over a million bullying incidents in a month or whatever.

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge

      Facebook employs the worst AI in the business

      That's not AI, unless you mean Audacious Ignorance.

      It's Machine Learning at best, but Maleficient Lies seems a better fit.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    Aiding and abetting

    Somebody needs to take this out of the regulatory arena and into the criminal arena.

    Clearly, many incidents which are politely referred to as scams are, in fact, theft, often grand theft. They need to be prosecuted as such.

    And Facebook needs to be prosecuted in a criminal court for aiding and abetting.

    1. anthonyhegedus

      Re: Aiding and abetting

      They just don't actually care

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Re: Aiding and abetting


        Which is why they must be forced to care.

        It's clear by now that requires a genuinely significant fine, to make caring cheaper than not. Maybe start at 10% annual worldwide revenue, and go up from there.

        Would pay for a notable reduction in income taxes, too. Trebles all round!

        1. Stoneshop Silver badge

          Re: Aiding and abetting

          Income taxes? Do they actually pay any? The few pennies left over after deductions for their so-called "Research and Development" into that Metaverse thingie will just round to zero if you calculate the tax percentage on that.

  12. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

    ..misinformation. And some of the latter has led to genocidal violence.

    a pretty strong allegation! to which genocide was the author referring?

    1. KBeee

      Probably the Rohingya genocide in Myanmar. Said to have been organised through Faecesbook posts.

    2. Old Shoes

      Which genocide?

      Which genocide? Well they’ve supported so many it’s hard to choose.

      Rohingya, Ethiopia, Uyghur, Sudan, …

  13. User McUser

    "We use technology"

    Oh good - I thought that maybe they were using magic or interpretive dance or something else.

    Glad they cleared that up for us...

    1. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

      Re: "We use technology"

      The point being that if the can't "use technology" to filter ad submissions, they refuse to do it at all, as it's "not commercially viable". Meta feel they are entitled to the ad business, so are not required to take actions that impact their bottom line.

      Once the principle that they are liable for the content they publish, they will either stop publishing it, or charge more to manually vet ads and puff articles. All outcomes are good.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It’s a Russian doll of scams and misinformation

    FB are addicted to money.

    Standards can get in the way.

  15. The Central Scrutinizer

    Money money money. Who cares if a few people lost exhorbitant amounts of money,as long as Zuckerborg got his ad revenue, right?

    I hope the ACCC nail him this time. I've seen those ads and it is a total fucking waste of time reporting them, as FB just conveniently ignores any complaints.

    How 6th trade of them. Lalalalala not listening....

  16. PriorKnowledge

    Block all ads and refuse to pay for services which offer them…

    Modern online advertising is a scummy free-for-all without any proper regulatory oversight. Things which should be labelled as advertising aren’t, you have “influencers” blurring the lines, and where sponsorships used to be in name only, sponsors now pay for full length embedded adverts within the media we consume. Even paying for an ad-free service (e.g. YouTube Premium) does not actually remove everything when product placements, “native advertising” and sponsors are factored in. Even when you pay, data is still being collected about you for the purposes of advertising to you in the future, even if you never, ever intend to cease paying.

    The best way to fight this is to block adverts, block sponsors and where possible defund any paid services which promote such an awful business model. Don’t buy things like YouTube Premium or Spotify when you can buy services which don’t have any ad-supported tiers instead. Don’t use Twitter to run a blog, run a Wordpress instance. Don’t use Facebook to chat to people, use ad-free instant messaging or SMS to do the same. Got hobbies? Stick to proper ad-free forums to discuss the things you like, not Reddit.

    Will doing this make everything super expensive? No, even as little as 20p/user/month would still bring in a lot more money than advertising for most low-bandwidth, low-impact websites. Even heavier websites do not need to be that expensive to run (look at Vimeo for an example) so there really is no excuse here…

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    From what I see in the upper right box of my browser interface, MOST of Facebook/Meta's advertisers are click-bait farms, "dating" sites, and other "questionable" excuses for a "business." This is what they talk of "defending" with their practices? Sure legitimate companies pay for feed space, but that "quick ad" box is nothing BUT spammers and scammers as far as I can see, and it is given guaranteed placement on every user's browser. :(

    1. Roland6 Silver badge

      Don't know about the upper right box of your browser interface, but on out-of-the-box Edge and other browsers that wish to give you the news headlines on loading, I regard the entire opening window as click-bait.

  18. Horst U Rodeinon

    Summarizing all these comments: We're all a bunch of addicts and our drug of choice is making us feel bad.

    If you want to get Zuck's attention, every account owner needs to quit FB cold turkey. For a week. If that doesn't cause enough pain for Meta to pay attention, do it for a month at which point many will have concluded they don't need to return.

    I know that isn't going to happen because addicts, but if you're really serious about wanting to change, stop going to the corner to buy another hit. Or shut up about it.

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge

      "We're all a bunch of addicts "

      Speak for yourself, OK?

  19. croc

    "They trust me. Dumb fucks."

  20. Mr Dogshit

    "Those unlucky enough to fall for the fake ads"

    "Those stupid enough to fall for the fake ads"

  21. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Are there Criminals/Culprits even worse than Facebook?

    And whenever political party election manifestos contain, and candidates blatantly vow/promise to deliver results which they never even come close to supplying, and which may even be impossible to provide, is that despicable criminal activity to be persecuted and prosecuted too, and media channels hosting such nonsense also targeted for punishment ...... just like Facebook is being targeted?

    Or is that perfectly acceptable to have Liars’r’Us pontificating to all and sundry in the highest of public offices?

    What an utterly crazy, mad, rad, bad, sad world y’all live in. No wonder it is collapsing with systems imploding all around you.

  22. Filippo Silver badge

    Facebook can get away with not being the "publisher" of their users' posts from an editorial perspective, but they definitely are the publishers of their ads, with all the responsibilities that entails.

    If it is impossible to adequately review all of their ads because the gathering is fully automated, then their business model isn't viable and they need to be shut down.

    The same goes for all tech companies that managed to automate away responsibility in this or that field. This cannot be considered acceptable just because it's really convenient and profitable.

  23. Zippy´s Sausage Factory

    "The Artist Formerly Known As Facebook"

    Very clever. But that's not the word beginning with A that I'd have chosen to use...

  24. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    The aiding and abetting crossroads

    "More than any time in history mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness, the other to total extinction.

    Let us pray that we have the wisdom to choose correctly."

    - Woody Allen (the icon applies)

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge
      Thumb Down

      Quoting Woody Allen ?

      In which case "Do as I say, not as I do" would be quite applicable.

  25. DrXym Silver badge

    Do they even care?

    I was reading a discussion on Facebook scams where someone posted a link to YouTube with over five million views. The video is unlisted so only seen by people lead there from Facebook. Five million views.

    The video was 3 minutes of pseudo financialese (think "Turbo Encabulator" bad) promising a mere 55x return on investment (!) on some trading service run by the scammer. If Facebook or YouTube bothered to review this video with a real human being, perhaps someone versed in trading / crypto then they would have been able to flag it as a such. If they had bothered to search the operators they'd see they were fined by the SEC for running pump & dump scams in the past, plus a litany of complaints of people screwed by this service. But they didn't and still haven't.

    This ad has been running for four months.

    Countries should start requiring advertising platforms to use human beings specialised in the field of these ads to review them, provide a proper complaints process and hold the platforms financially responsible for failures to review or remove ads. Once there is money on the line platforms will take the issue a lot more seriously than they are right now.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Do they even care?

      > Countries should start requiring advertising platforms to use human beings specialised in the field of these ads to review them, provide a proper complaints process and hold the platforms financially responsible for failures to review or remove ads. Once there is money on the line platforms will take the issue a lot more seriously than they are right now.

      Not sure where you'd find these people? Do you fancy a job at minimum wage reviewing adverts for PCs all day?

      A better solution might be to require on-line displayers of adverts to only accept adverts from registered advertising agencies. The agencies are then expected to have and maintain a genuine relationship with their clients. If they don't they get de-registered and their clients go elsewhere.

      At the very least it removes some of the opacity from the industry.

      An analogy for why this might work: prior to about 2000 in the Czech Republic, anyone could be a foreign exchange bureau. This led to thousands of shady dealers pestering tourists with dodgy rates and/or money laundering of behalf of local criminals. Legislation was introduced that, initially, simply required them to register with the authorities and, overnight, 3/4 of them disappeared.

      Of course this didn't eliminate every shady dealer or money launderer but the workload in finding them had been reduced by 3/4.

      1. anthonyhegedus

        Re: Do they even care?

        This should be facebook's job. They NEED to employ people checking adverts all day and stop pretending that they're using "AI". They NEED to employ people checking the context of people's comments to make sure they're not being blocked for no reason, and to make sure they are being blocked when they spout vile filth or dodgy adverts. There is literally no excuse not to. They have billions in profits, they just need to mobilise more people.

        All they've done is start a platform that's ridiculously easy to advertise on and then use the "sorry we can't police all the adverts" excuse when asked about it. The business model is NOT sustainable if they are to stay within the law, clearly.

        You can't make that much money, have that many adverts, and that little checking as well as stay legal. And you can't run a 'safe' social network without employing yet more people to make sure it's safe.

        Their current excuse is covid. Unbelievable. This job is literally something you can do at home, with online training, and they're STILL spouting covid as an excuse for having 'fewer moderators than usual'. No wonder they're making more money than usual. That Zuckerberg needs to be held to account.

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