Consumer champion and MoneySavingExpert founder Martin Lewis is suing Facebook after the platform published dozens of fake adverts misusing his image and name in order to lure victims into ‘get rich quick’ scams.
The landmark defamation case sees Lewis seek recourse for the misuse of his identity, arguing that the social network neglected to either prevent such content from appearing in the first place, nor remove it swiftly enough – resulting in damage to his own reputation and financial losses for victims.
Lewis has vowed not to profit from any potential damages, which would be donated to an anti-fraud charity, hoping instead that his action will serve as a wake-up call to the social media giant to take the issue more seriously.
Lewis commented: “I get about five messages a day from people saying, ‘I’ve just seen your Bitcoin ad and wanted to check it.’ If that is the number who get through to me, how many more must be just taken in?”
“It is consistent, it is repeated. Other companies such as Outbrain who have run these adverts have taken them down. What is particularly pernicious about Facebook is that it says the onus is on me, so I have spent time and effort and stress repeatedly to have them taken down.
“It is facilitating scams on a constant basis in a morally repugnant way. If Mark Zuckerberg wants to be the champion of moral causes, then he needs to stop its company doing this.”
Success in the action is far from assured with any case resting on the ability of Lewis’ lawyers to both prove that the UK has jurisdiction and that Facebook is the publisher.
Martin Lewis has now taken to Twitter to call out The Guardian and Sky News, which have reportedly served the fake ads on their articles against the articles about the law suit. This would mean that one of the ad tech partners that the media companies are using is allowing the targeting, or re-targeting, of the fake ads to appear when Martin Lewis reads the stories.
Your own advertising algorithms have then published similar fake ads about me on the pages with those news stories.
Please rectify this immediately— Martin Lewis (@MartinSLewis) April 23, 2018
Facebook's reputation has taken a battering in recent days over its role in influencing democracies, privacy and data protection.