Formerly known as Facebook, Meta Platforms, Inc. has found itself in hotwater because the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has decided to take the company to Federal Court. The competition regulator has alleged that the company, along with its branch in Ireland, published scam celebrity crypto advertisements, thereby engaging in misleading, false and deceptive conduct. These long-running and sophisticated scams that are tied to crypto scams have stolen about hundreds of thousands of dollars from some users. Since the beginning of February, Meta has been in the spotlight in Australia. It was previously reported that the company was under investigation by the ACCC for the fraudulent crypto ads.
Andrew Forrest, the Australian mining billionaire, had also taken legal action against the firm because it hosted ads that were allegedly using his name for conning victims. The ACCC posted an announcement in which it stated that Meta had engaged in misleading and false representation and conduct by those running the ads. Some of the endorsed and unapproved ‘scam’ ads were highlighted by the ACCC, which featured some notable Australian figures like David Koch, TV host, Dick Smith, who is an entrepreneur and Mike Baird, former NSW premier.
According to the regulator, there were dubious links given in the ads that took users to a fake media article from Facebook. This article contained quotes that had been attributed to public figures and they appeared to be endorsing a money-making or crypto scheme. The announcement said that the users were asked to sign up for the scheme and scammers got in touch with them. In order to convince the users into depositing money into the said schemes, they made use of some high-pressure tactics, which included making repeated phone calls. Rod Sims, the ACCC Chair did not hold back when it came to criticizing Meta.
He stated that the company was responsible for the ads that are published on their platform and that failure to remove such ads would offer the company a financial benefit. He said that helping advertisers in targeting users who have a high probability of clicking on the link included in the ad for visiting the landing page is a vital part of Meta’s business. It uses Facebook’s algorithms for this purpose and when users visit the landing pages, it can provide a substantial amount of revenue to Facebook. He went on to say that a consumer had lost a whopping $650,000 because of the false advertisements of scam investment opportunities on Facebook.
He said that it was disgraceful. According to the ACCC, the company’s actions means that it is in violation of the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC Act), or Australian Consumer Law (ACL). Therefore, they are now looking for injunctions, costs, penalties, declarations and other orders. False crypto advertisements have also gotten platforms like YouTube into trouble, but the ruling has been in their favor so far. It remains to be seen how Meta will deal with this situation and whether it will be able to get out of it, or not.