Facebook launches anti-scam tool backed by Martin Lewis

Lewis: took legal action after scam ad using his image appeared on Facebook
Lewis: took legal action after scam ad using his image appeared on Facebook

From today, UK Facebook users can flag ads they believe to be scams or misleading.

Facebook has today launched a scam ads reporting tool as part of its legal settlement with MoneySavingExpert.com founder Martin Lewis.

Lewis dropped his legal action against the social media giant in January. He had claimed that Facbeook failed to prevent and remove false advertising using his name and image for scams.

From today, all UK Facebook users can flag ads they believe to be scams or misleading by clicking the three dots in the top right corner. 

Users can press "report ad", choose "Misleading or scam ad" and then "Send a detailed scam report".

 

Facebook said this will alert a new, dedicated and specially trained internal operations team that will review and take down violating ads.

Lewis said: "The UK faces an epidemic of online scam ads – they’re everywhere. Yet disgracefully there’s little effective law or regulation to prevent them and official enforcement is poor to non-existent, as these criminals are usually based outside of the EU.

"That’s why I sued for defamation – bizarrely the only law I could find to try to make big tech firms understand the damage their negligent behaviour has caused." 

Lewis claimed that Facebook’s new tool would enable it to "pull ahead of the pack" because many tech companies do not make it as easy for consumers to report scam ads.

As part of its settlement with Lewis, Facebook also committed to donate £3m to set up the Citizens Advice Scams Action service, which provides one-to-one support for victims and allows the charity to independently undertake scam prevention work. The £3m donation will be made up of £2.5m in cash over the next two years and £500,000 in Facebook ad credit coupons issued in tranches over the next three years.

Steve Hatch, vice-president for northern Europe at Facebook, said: "Scam ads are an industry-wide problem caused by criminals and have no place on Facebook. Through our work with Martin Lewis, we’re taking a market-leading position and our new reporting tool and dedicated team are important steps to stop the misuse of our platform. 

"Prevention is also key. Our £3m donation to Citizens Advice will not only help those who have been impacted by scammers, but raise awareness of how to avoid scams too. At a global level, we’ve tripled the size of our safety and security team to 30,000 people and continue to invest heavily in removing bad content from our platform. 

Last week, Facebook updated its "Why am I seeing this ad?" tool, which allows users to see more detailed targeting, including the interests or catgories that matched them with a specific ad.

The company is also about to get fined $5bn (£2.4bn) by the US Federal Trade Commission to settle an investigation into data-privacy violations related to the Cambridge Analytica scandal, according to US reports. In April, Facebook – which made $55.84bn in revenues last year – announced that it was setting aside $3bn in expectation of the fine.

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