Qatari billionaire takes Facebook to court for fake crypto ads

The billionaire businessman has sued Facebook in an Irish court for allowing his face to be used by scammers on its platform who published bogus crypto ads

Facebook, Crypto Ads, Scam

Qatari billionaire businessman Wissam Al Mana has sued social media giant Facebook over bogus cryptocurrency ads on its platform. Al Mana is claiming defamation, false advertisement and malicious falsehood in his lawsuit. He alleges that Facebook published the advertisement featuring his image without his consent or knowledge.

Al Mana, who is renowned as the ex-husband to pop legend Janet Jackson, filed his lawsuit last week in an Irish court. According to a report by U.K. news outlet The Times, the scam claimed affiliation to him and used the fake endorsement to target investors in the Middle East.

Al Mana is being represented by Paul Tweed, a famous defamation lawyer who has represented several celebrities in their defamation cases, including Jennifer Lopez, Jessican Biel and Justin Timberlake. More significantly, he has been involved in previous lawsuits against Facebook, including that of Djibouti’s president Ismael Omar Guelleh against the social media platform in 2016.

Tweed revealed that suing Facebook in Ireland was strategic and gives Al Mana a higher chance of victory compared to the U.S. European data protection laws are stricter on tech companies, he remarked. Moreover, in the U.S., tech companies get to hide behind the first amendment laws which guarantee free speech for all, evading their responsibilities to their users. Ireland is also the European headquarters for Facebook and the designated data processor for all accounts outside the U.S. and Canada.

Al Mana is one of the most prominent businesspeople in the Middle East, making him the ideal person to target for the crypto scams. His self-named conglomerate owns 55 companies in eight countries, holding exclusive rights to global brands including Alexander McQueen, Hermès and Balenciaga. His fame grew even greater after he got married to Janet Jackson in 2012.

Al Mana is just one of the several celebrities whose images have been illegally used by crypto scams on social media. According to a report in December last year by Which? Magazine, these scams had made away with over $250,000 in 2019 in the U.K. alone. The magazine found scams using fake endorsements from British business moguls Alan Sugar, Sir Philip Green, music icon Simon Cowell and more.

These scams haven’t been limited to the U.K., with global icons such as Elon Musk, Katy Perry and Donald Trump being some of the targets. This has led to global concern, with a Dutch court last year ordering Facebook to use filter technologies to identify and take down fake crypto ads. The court claimed that victims of these types of scams had lost over $1.8 million.

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