Facebook has once again found itself in an unsettling predicament, breaking rules that it has enforced on its own platforms. Dutch billionaire John De Mol, who brought “Big Brother” and “The Voice” to the airwaves in the Netherlands, is suing the social media giant for allowing his image to appear in cryptocurrency ads on the platforms without his permission.
In a report by Reuters, the ads were created to promote what would eventually be identified as crypto scams. Having his name associated with the fraudulent activity damaged De Mol’s reputation, according to the lawsuit, and he wants a little more than $1.9 million in compensation for the damage.
The billionaire entrepreneur and businessman adds that other Dutch figures have appeared in ads without permission, as well. One of the lawyers representing De Mol, Jacqueline Schaap, asserts that Facebook has the responsibility to ensure these ads cannot be published and that it needs to do more to scrutinize ad submissions. She further stated, “I don’t know what reality Facebook lives in, but that doesn’t work.”
For its part, Facebook says it cannot monitor all of the ads that appear on its platform. The company’s lawyer, Jens van den Brink, offered apologies for the ads and removed them soon after complaints were lodged. He further stated that representatives from Facebook had been in discussion with the Authority for the Financial Markets (AFM), the Dutch financial markets regulator, earlier in the week to figure out how to combat scammers. However, those discussions more than likely were more tied to the company’s plans for its GlobalCoin stablecoin, than they were to offer consumer protection.
Preventing fraudulent ads might be a daunting task, but it is definitely not an impossible one. There are methods employed by all media outlets to ensure that published ads meet certain criteria and regulatory guidelines. If Facebook isn’t able to take better control of its own platforms, it raises serious questions about its ability to handle something as sensitive and important as a financial asset like crypto.
At the very least, as De Mol and his lawyers assert, Facebook needs to turn over the details of those who created the ads so that the information can be provided to the proper authorities. If Facebook can’t do that, then it has bigger issues to worry about.
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