Australia sues Meta for not doing enough to remove scam crypto ads

Meta is being sued by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) for not being quick enough to remove cryptocurrency scam ads on Facebook.

The platform is already facing a criminal investigation in Australia after billionaire Andrew Forrest took the tech giant to task for scam ads that use his image.

Forrest, the chairman of Fortescue Metals Group, has accused Facebook of being criminally reckless by not doing enough to stop criminals from using its platform to send scam advertisements that aim to defraud Australian users.

He alleged that the scam advertisements, which use his image to promote cryptocurrency investment schemes, have appeared on Facebook since March 2019.

Now the ACCC is alleging that these scam ads are still on Facebook and have links that direct users to fake news articles about public figures such as businessman Dick Smith, television presenter David Koch and politician Mike Baird endorsing cryptocurrency companies.

These articles then encourage users to sign up with these companies and deposit money. There are already victims, including a person who lost more than $450,000, according to ACCC.

“Meta should have been doing more to detect and then remove false or misleading ads on Facebook to prevent consumers from falling victim to ruthless scammers,” commission chair Rod Sims said.

“The essence of our case is that Meta is responsible for these ads that it publishes on its platform.”

Meta has said it has cooperated with the regulator’s investigation so far and intends to defend itself in court, according to The Wall Street Journal.