| 21 April 2024, Sunday |

Facebook and Google ‘failed to remove scam adverts’

Facebook and Google failed to remove online scam adverts after fraud victims reported them, according to consumer watchdog Which?

Google had failed to remove 34 percent of the scam adverts reported to it, compared with 26 percent at Facebook, the study indicated.

Both companies said they removed fraudulent adverts, which are banned on their platforms.

But Which? said a more proactive approach was needed.

The report also found:

  • 15 percent of those surveyed had fallen victim to a scam advert and reported it
  • of these, 27 percent had been on Facebook and 19 percent on Google
  • 43 percent of victims did not report the scam to the technology companies

On Facebook, the biggest reason people did not report the scam was they doubted anything would be done.

Warn consumers

“The combination of inaction from online platforms when scam ads are reported, low reporting levels by scam victims and the ease with which advertisers can post new fraudulent adverts even after the original ad has been removed suggests that online platforms need to take a far more proactive approach to prevent fraudulent content from reaching potential victims in the first place,” Which? said.

And it has launched a free scam-alert service to warn consumers of the latest tactics used by fraudsters.

“There is no doubt that tech giants, regulators and the government need to go to greater lengths to prevent scams from flourishing,” Adam French, consumer rights expert at Which?, said.

“Online platforms must be given a legal responsibility to identify, remove and prevent fake and fraudulent content on their sites… and the government needs to act now.”

Violating policies

A Facebook representative said: “Fraudulent activity is not allowed on Facebook and we have taken action on a number of pages reported to us by Which?”

Google, meanwhile, said it had removed or blocked more than 3.1 billion ads for violating policies.

“We’re constantly reviewing ads, sites and accounts to ensure they comply with our policies,” the company added.

“We have strict policies that govern the kinds of ads that we allow to run on our platform.

“We enforce those policies vigorously -, and if we find ads that are in violation, we remove them.

“We utilise a mix of automated systems and human review to enforce our policies.”