UK television personality, Martin Lewis is suing Facebook for defamation, stating the social media giant has failed to stop fake adverts that use his face and name. Some of these fake ads have been pushing cryptocurrency scams.
The man who founded the UK’s biggest consumer website, MoneySavingExpert.com and has his own show on British national television, ITV’s The Martin Lewis Money Show, is pursuing Facebook in a personal lawsuit, issuing high court proceedings.
He claims that in the last year alone, Facebook has published over 50 fake adverts using his face and name, with some ads linking to websites that look like reputable news publishers such as the BBC.
The scams include get-rich-schemes such as ‘Bitcoin code’ or ‘Cloud Trader’. These are operating as fronts for binary trading firms based outside the EU. In January this year, Facebook fired back against misleading and deceptive ad practices from ICOs, cryptocurrencies and binary options by banning the adverts.
Martin Lewis said: “Enough is enough. I’ve been fighting for over a year to stop Facebook letting scammers use my name and face to rip off vulnerable people – yet it continues. I feel sick each time I hear of another victim being conned because of trust they wrongly thought they were placing in me. One lady had over £100,000 taken from her.”
Speaking to the BBC Today Programme, Lewis said the adverts were “likely to have been seen by millions of people in the UK”. In the interview, he said: “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?”
In the wake of fake news and the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Martin Lewis is calling on Facebook to take responsibility for the paid ads it publishes. He said that he does not do adverts, which should make it easy for a “leader in facial recognition” to stop the fake ads, but Facebook’s system leaves the onus on individuals to report fake adverts. And even when a fake ad is reported it can be “left up for days or weeks. And finally, when they are taken down the scammers just launch a new, nearly identical campaign very soon afterwards and the whole rigmarole starts again.”
Lewis’s hope is that after repeated attempts to get Facebook to listen and discuss the issue with him, he might be able to have his say, and hear from them in court. He says any money won will be donated to anti-scam charities.
Last month, Twitter came under attack for scam cryptocurrency accounts and Twitter’s CEO, Jack Dorsey came forward with a commitment to cracking down this misuse of the social media platform.
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