Stay ahead – join The Drum+

Starling Bank boycotts Facebook and Instagram until it sorts out ‘scammers’ problem

Starling Bank boycotts Facebook

Starling Bank’s chief executive has said it will cease all paid advertising on Facebook and Instagram until the company puts a stop to financial scammers to advertise and post content.

In a blog post, Anne Boden said the digital-only bank has put pressure on tech giants to crack down on the ease at which fraudsters can target potential victims on their platforms.

She applauded Google for its efforts after it bowed to pressure in August 2021 and agreed to stop accepting financial services advertisements unless the advertiser could demonstrate that they are authorized by the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) or unless they qualified for certain limited exemptions.

“This represents a welcome, if long-overdue, step forward,” she said.

“We’ve been urging other platforms to follow suit and have campaigned doggedly this year to get financial and economic crime included in the forthcoming Online Harms Bill, which I see has been renamed the Online Safety Bill without any apparent hint of irony. It cannot be right that these platforms profit from crime and yet remain beyond the reach of law.”

Boden specifically targeted the recently rebranded Meta for lagging in its efforts to protect users on Facebook and Instagram, despite promises in December that it would follow in Google’s footsteps.

Until it does, Boden said Starling has stopped all paid advertising on Facebook and Instagram.

“We want to protect our customers and our brand integrity. And we can no longer pay to advertise on a platform alongside scammers who are going after the savings of our customers and those of other banks,” she added.

Starling, which was founded in 2014, claims to have more than 2.5 million customer accounts.

It spent approximately £9m on advertising in 2020 and last year appointed media agency Electric Glue handle its spend.

In response, Meta issued a statement saying it has committed to introducing a new onboarding process this year which will require UK regulated financial services to be authorised by the FCA prior to serving financial services adverts on its platforms.

"Promoting financial scams is against our policies and we're dedicating significant resources to tackling this industry-wide issue on and off our platforms. To fight this, we work not just to detect and reject scam ads on our services, but also block advertisers," it said. "While no enforcement is perfect, we continue to invest in new technologies and methods to protect people on our service from these scams.”

Boden also went on to criticize chief executive Mark Zuckerberg’s vision for the ‘metaverse’ and the growth of finance and DeFi (Decentralised Finance), suggesting it’s taking attention away from the very real problems users are experiencing today.

“While Facebook (Meta) may hold out all sorts of promises for the future, I really hope its focus on the metaverse doesn’t become a distraction from doing what is right today, here and now in the UK of 2022.”

By continuing to use The Drum, I accept the use of cookies as per The Drum's privacy policy