Facebook crackdown sparked by Martin Lewis will finally see scam adverts blocked

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Social media users who complain about Facebook scams – and those who lose money to them – will now have their cases investigated by a specialist team of experts that will fight their corner and block the dangerous adverts.

On Tuesday, new rules kick in to combat online scam adverts on the back of a defamation lawsuit by Martin Lewis after users lost thousands of pounds to fake investment adverts.

On 23 January 2019, the consumer expert agreed to settle his case out of court, with a £3million payout to set up a new anti-scams initiative, and create a smart scam ads reporting tool on Facebook.

These are linked to fraudulent adverts, placed by criminals, which often use fake celebrity images or endorsements to dupe people into investing in fake ‘get rich quick’ schemes called ‘Bitcoin Trader’, buying diet pills and more.

They can lead to many people being conned out of their cash – in some cases their life savings – and have a serious impact on people’s mental health and self-esteem.

A specially trained team has been tasked with investigating alerts raised by the British public who will review reports and take down violating adverts, in a bid to clamp down on potentially devastating misleading adverts

 

Today, Facebook will launch a new scam ads reporting tool, accessible within the app, supported by a dedicated team, allowing people to easily report ads they believe to be misleading or scams on Facebook.

All UK users will be able to 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’ .

This will alert a new, dedicated, specially trained, internal operations team who will handle these reports, review and take down violating ads.

Elsewhere, Citizen’s Advice has announced plans to deliver specialist one-on-one help to those worried they’re being scammed and those who have already lost money.

The charity said it will also undertake scams prevention work to identify, tackle and raise awareness of online fraud in the UK.

People who think they have, or are being, scammed online can now get help from its Scams Action group by calling its fraud team on 0300 3303003, or using its online web support.

It will also offer face-to-face appointments for those who need it at their local Citizens Advice in England, Wales and Scotland.

However, the service won’t just be for scam ads – it will also help with email fraud such as antivirus and fake invoice messages; website scams like copycat sites; and investment scams which include buying non-existent stocks, shares and other investments such as rare wine or art.

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It will also help people who have already fallen victim to scams online – and could help them get their money back

 

“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,” Martin Lewis explained.

“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.

“Millions of people know a scam when they see it, and millions of others don’t. So now, I’d ask all who recognise them to use the new Facebook reporting tool, to help protect those who don’t – which includes many who are vulnerable. Facebook’s new dedicated team will then hopefully respond quickly to ditch the scammers.

“Sadly, we have to accept zero tolerance won’t mean zero occurrence. Yet my hope is it’ll squash the numbers of scam ads and the time those that do get through are live.”
 
“During the lawsuit negotiations I approached Citizens Advice and asked if it’d be willing to help in the fight against scam ads. I was delighted that it was so eager to do it, and that it’d have a couple of years of resources to try to tackle and repair the damage caused by the scourge of scams.

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Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: “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.”

Steve Hatch, at Facebook, added: “Scam ads are an industry-wide problem caused by criminals and have no place on Facebook.

“Prevention is also key. Our £3million 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.”



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