Facebook and Citizens Advice have set up an anti-scam initiative and created a scam advertising reporting tool, unique to the social media platform in the UK.
It comes after Facebook settled a defamation case with MoneySavingExpert.com founder Martin Lewis, in which he agreed to settle his case out of court in return for Facebook making a binding commitment to donate £3m to anti-fraud causes.
That money has been handed over to Citizens Advice to build a new service to help victims of online fraudsters. The charity said it expects to help at least 20,000 people in the first year.
Often in scams such as these, adverts are placed by criminals, frequently using fake celebrity images or endorsements to dupe people into investing in fake ‘get rich quick’ schemes. Martin Lewis’s name and image was used in this way in fake adverts on Facebook, prompting his defamation case.
Within Facebook itself, a specially trained team has been set up to investigate adverts reported through the new tool.
From today (July 16, 2019), all UK users can flag ads they believe to be scams or misleading by clicking the three dots in the top right corner of every ad on Facebook, pressing ‘Report ad’, then choosing ‘Misleading or scam ad’ and then ‘Send a detailed scam report’.
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.”
Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “We know online scams affect thousands of people every year. We’re pleased the agreement between Martin Lewis and Facebook meant we could set up this dedicated service to give more help to people who have fallen victim to online scams.
“This project means we can not only support people who have been targeted, but also raise awareness of what to look out for to help prevent online scams happening in the first place.