Facebook invests in spam ad crackdown following Martin Lewis settlement

Earlier this year Facebook reached an out of court settlement with Money Saving Expert founder Martin Lewis / Martin Lewis

Facebook has launched a feature that will let users more easily report ads they believe to be scams within the social network's walls, as well as investing in a dedicated team to tackle the issue.

The announcement follows on from the social network reaching an out of court settlement with Money Saving Expert founder Martin Lewis, who had been pursuing a defamation lawsuit against it in the high court.

Lewis has been lobbying Facebook for the past year as part of a wider campaign to prevent the publication of scam ads for get-rich-quick schemes that used his image; something other high-profile figures like Alan Sugar and Richard Branson have contended with online.

After pledging to get tough the bad actors behind these fake ads – which often promote financial ventures or bitcoin investment schemes – Facebook will now let UK users flag ads they believe to be scams or misleading. This can be done by clicking the three dots in the top right corner of every ad on Facebook, pressing ‘report ad’, then choosing ‘misleading or scam ad’ and then ‘send a detailed scam report’.

When a user does this, it will trigger an alert that will then be sent to a new internal operations team who will handle these reports, review and take down violating ads.

That team will also investigate trends to help enforcement, and drive improvements. The tool and dedicated team are unique to the UK, as a result of the lawsuit.

Facebook's has also donated £3m to Citizen's Advice to deliver a new UK scam action project – a scheme that will allow the charity to undertake digital scam prevention work and increase awareness around this threat. The group has used these funds to set up specialist one-on-one services for those worried they’re being scammed and those who have already lost money.

“Scam ads are an industry-wide problem caused by criminals and have no place on Facebook," said Facebook's vice-president for Northern Europe, Steve Hatch.

“Through our work with Martin Lewis, we’re taking a market leading position and our new reporting tool and dedicated team are important steps to stop the misuse of our platform.

He also pointed out that Facebook has "tripled" the size of its safety and security team to 30,000 people, including moderators in its European centre in Barcelona.

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