This past September, Dutch billionaire John de Mol made it clear that he wasn’t happy with his likeness being used to promote cryptocurrency. He wanted Facebook to be more proactive in preventing his face from being associated with crypto companies, especially since the misuse, as well as that of other celebrities, had led to investor losses of over $1.4 million in scams. After Facebook didn’t act on his requests, he was forced to sue and, according to Reuters, a Dutch court has now intervened, as well, ordering the social media giant to take action.
Facebook has tried to argue that it is nothing more than a conduit and that it can’t prevent ads from being posted. The Dutch court disagrees, asserting, “Facebook’s arguments that it is just a neutral funnel for information, and therefore cannot be obligated to act, is not acceptable. The company plays too active a role with respect to advertisements, which form its primary business model, to argue that.”
Facebook charges for ads and has policies in place to set different rates for different types of promotional material. It also has policies to determine what should or shouldn’t be published. As a result, it is directly responsible for the material that appears on its platforms. The court threatened to fine the company as much as €1.1 million (about $1.2 million) if it didn’t follow its orders.
Facebook, which wants to offer the Libra stablecoin as a digital financial alternative to fiat, remains adamant that it has no control over the ads that appear. It said that it had removed the ads prior to the court’s decision and adds, “Importantly, this ruling does not change our commitment to fighting these types of ads. We cannot stress enough that these types of ads have absolutely no place on Facebook, and we remove them when we find them.”
For his part, De Mol, who is behind Deal or No Deal, The Voice and Big Brother, is happy with the court’s decision, which also orders Facebook to turn over all information it has on the identities of those that introduced the fake ads. If Facebook isn’t able to deliver, it would only reiterate regulators’ concerns that the company isn’t mature enough to handle something as important as a global financial currency.
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