UK Consumer Advice personality Martin Lewis is reportedly suing Facebook over fake ads on their platform featuring his face and name.
Martin Lewis, the popular consumer advice personality and founder of the MoneySavingExpert.com tips website, is suing Facebook according to TechCrunch. Lewis claims that Facebook has failed to remove fake ads featuring his name and picture despite repeated reports and complaints. Lewis claims that as a result, his brand and likeness is becoming associated with fraud and dishonesty as many of these ads are run by scam artists attempting to convince Facebook users to part ways with their money.
“It is consistent, it is repeated. Other companies such as Outbrain who have run these adverts have taken them down. What is particularly pernicious about Facebook is that it says the onus is on me, so I have spent time and effort and stress repeatedly to have them taken down,” said Lewis. “It is facilitating scams on a constant basis in a morally repugnant way. If Mark Zuckerburg wants to be the champion of moral causes, then he needs to stop its company doing this.”
Lewis argues in a blog post that it should be easy for Facebook to prevent these advertisements from being posted given that the company is a “a leader in face and text recognition” and should be able to identify photos of Lewis being used without his permission.
“I don’t do adverts. I’ve told Facebook that. 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,” stated Lewis. “Yet it simply continues to repeatedly publish these adverts and then relies on me to report them, once the damage has been done.”
He continued: “Enough is enough. 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.”
Some of the scams ads are reportedly related to cryptocurrency and offer a “revolutionary Bitcoin home-based opportunity.” Facebook banned cryptocurrency advertisements in January yet it would appear that through the use of images of public figures such as Lewis, scammers have found a way to continue their cryptocurrency based scam.
Here’s just one example of the fake advertisements featuring Lewis:
This ad then links to a fake website made to imitate the UK newspaper the Mirror:
Mark Lewis of Seddons, the law firm representing Martin Lewis, said in a statement: “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.”
A Facebook spokesperson commented on the issue saying:
We do not allow adverts which are misleading or false on Facebook and have explained to Martin Lewis that he should report any adverts that infringe his rights and they will be removed. We are in direct contact with his team, offering to help and promptly investigating their requests, and only last week confirmed that several adverts and accounts that violated our Advertising Policies had been taken down.