In what is being referred to as a “groundbreaking lawsuit”, United Kingdom financial guru Martin Lewis is taking aim at Facebook’s lack of vigilance with regard to fake accounts. Mr. Lewis claims his likeness and reputation were used in multiple fraudulent instances, peddling mostly investment advice for assets such as bitcoin.
Facebook to Be Sued for Defamatory Bitcoin Ads
“I will issue High Court proceedings against Facebook,” the popular UK financial advisor posted in lieu of his regular column, “to try and stop all the disgusting repeated fake adverts from scammers it refuses to stop publishing with my picture, name and reputation.”
Mr. Lewis is proprietor of a consumer finance site and host of Independent Television’s (ITV) The Martin Lewis Money Show. “Within the last year,” a press release reads, Facebook “has published over 50 fake Martin Lewis adverts, which are regularly seen, likely by millions of people, in the UK. These adverts are often for scams. Many have big pictures of Martin and his name, alongside a raft of false promises or endorsements – some then link on to fake articles which continue the theme.”
Increasingly, Facebook has come under fire for its privacy policies, including having to defend itself in front of the United States Senate and House of Representatives. The social network seems to understand there is a problem with crypto-related ads, taking action earlier this year, insisting “ads must not promote financial products and services that are frequently associated with misleading or deceptive promotional practices, such as binary options, initial coin offerings, or cryptocurrency.” Evidently their latest moves have yet to produce results.
As a result, Mr. Lewis will “issue High Court proceedings for a campaigning defamation lawsuit against Facebook and will be seeking exemplary damages. This is not being done for personal gain – he pledges any and all money paid out to him will be donated to anti-scam charities.”
Enough is Enough
The offending fake ad content revolves around get-rich-quick schemes. “‘Bitcoin code’ or ‘Cloud Trader,’” the release details, “are fronts for binary trading firms based outside the EU. Binary trading is a financially dangerous, near-certain money-loser, which the regulator the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) strongly warns against.”
“Enough is enough,” Mr. Lewis said. “I’ve been fighting for over a year to stop Facebook letting scammers use my name and face to rip off vulnerable people – yet it continues. I feel sick each time I hear of another victim being conned because of trust they wrongly thought they were placing in me. One lady had over £100,000 taken from her.”
He claims not to do advertisements, and has informed Facebook of that fact. “Any ad with my picture or name in is without my permission. I’ve asked it not to publish them, or at least to check their legitimacy with me before publishing. This shouldn’t be difficult – after all, it’s a leader in face and text recognition. Yet it simply continues to repeatedly publish these adverts and then relies on me to report them, once the damage has been done.”
The attorney leading the charge urged, “Facebook is not above the law – it cannot hide outside the UK and think that it is untouchable. Exemplary damages are being sought. This means we will ask the court to ensure they are substantial enough that Facebook can’t simply see paying out damages as just the ‘cost of business’ and carry on regardless. It needs to be shown that the price of causing misery is very high.”
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