In April last year, Martin Lewis sued Facebook after more than 1,000 scam ads abusing his name and reputation appeared on the social media site.
Mr. Lewis said he had been fighting with Facebook for over a year before he filed a lawsuit to prevent them from circulating fake ad scams across the internet.
The founder claims he suffered damage to his reputation, and caused others to lose a large amount of money. He said that he was aware of a woman that reportedly lost £100,000 as a result of the bogus adverts.
But now, according to his latest blog post, Mr. Lewis has decided not to take any legal action against Facebook. Lewis agreed to drop his lawsuit after the social media site agreed to add a new scam ad reporting button.
Citizen Advice Scams Action (CASA)
In an attempt to tackle ad scams on its site, and to avoid potential lawsuits such as these, Facebook said it will also donate £3m to set up a new Citizen Advice-Action Scams (CASA) project, which will be introduced in May.
“Online scam adverts, which often use fake celebrity endorsements to get people to part with their cash, have become widespread across the Internet in recent years, and Facebook admitted in May last year that there were 1,000s of these ads featuring Martin on its site,” the statement said.
“It shouldn’t have taken the threat of legal action to get here,” Lewis said of the settlement. “Yet once we started talking, Facebook quickly realised the scale of the problem, its impact on real people, and agreed to commit to making a difference both on its own platform and across the wider sector.”
According to figures from Action Fraud (AF) in 2018, online investment scams targeting people via social media have stolen large amounts of money rising, in the UK, by 400,000% over the last six years.
According to the AF report, victims have lost over £87k to binary scams every day. AF found out that the amount lost to ‘binary options’ – which target investors through social media – increased from £6,200 in 2012, to £27m in 2017.
Campaign designed to stop ad scams
“The amount being donated to set up the CASA project is far above anything I could’ve won, had I succeeded in a court,” said Lewis. “In fact, we believe the amount Facebook is donating is substantially bigger than the biggest-ever UK court settlement for defamation. That shows Facebook’s determination to change things.”
“The aim of my campaigning lawsuit was always to stop scam ads, and to help those who have fallen victim to them. What we’re announcing today does that at a far bigger scale than I could’ve hoped for.”
“And, especially after recent weeks, when another plague of these horrible adverts have been right across the Internet,” he added. “I’d call on the other major players, both social media and advertising platforms, including Google, to follow Facebook’s lead, accept things must change and put their hands in their pockets to help Citizens Advice Scams Action too.”
This isn’t the first time Facebook has attempted to prevent fake ads from plaguing its site.
In 2015, Facebook had promised widespread changes to its platform to prevent fake ads after a viral hoax called “click here for a lifetime of free coffee,” began popping up on users’ news feeds.