Pay Facebook to cheat

Posted: September 19, 2019 in Ranting
Tags: , , , ,

Internet scams are nothing new. And one in particular has been doing the rounds for some time now, citing all sorts of names and television programs, while Facebook and Twitter take payment for hosting ads for the scammers. But now the ABC is reporting on this and maybe something may change. Maybe.

The scam in question has ads on Facebook and Twitter as sponsored posts ie they pay Facebook and Twitter to have their posts posted prominently on people’s individual feeds. The posts link to a webpage with an alleged article spelling out the wonders of their brilliant ‘investment.’ And the format is pretty much always the same.

The scam is getting to people to supposedly invest in something called BitCoin or other variants of the name, supposedly making mega-profits from the market for bitcoins.

The ABC report refers to the name and face of Australian billionaire, Andrew Forrest, being used with someone losing more than $600,000 to the scam. But Forrest is just one individual whose likeness has been used. For example most versions of the scam that I have seen, refer to a fictitious interview with Waleed Aly on The Project. But the names vary. Mel Gibson, David Koch and James Packer are just three more that immediately spring to mind that have been referred to and pictured promoting this fraud.

There are two issues.

First, the investment itself. This is a scam. There was money to be made with the virtual currency, bit coins, for a while, but that market has since collapsed. But even if it was an ongoing market, reputable investment outfits don’t have to rely on just Facebook and Twitter advertisements. Please, people, if you want to invest money in something, don’t go throwing it away to strangers on the damned Internet! Someone I used to be involved with in a personal computer group, used to refer to victims of such things as ‘Darwin in action.’ Except it should not be survival of the fittest. It should be survival by common bloody sense.

Now to the scam. The ABC article refers to the problem with the websites and operators being based somewhere internationally. And I am sure that is a problem when it comes to law enforcement. But there is another, big issue, that is not being addressed.

Facebook and Twitter both present posts in people’s individual feeds that are ‘sponsored’ posts. In short, this is where an individual or business pays Facebook or Twitter to place those posts in a prominent position towards the top of an individual’s news feed. I repeat, Facebook and Twitter are PAID to present these posts. They are accepting money for assisting in a scam where people’s money is stolen by fraudulent means!

If this were a one-off or rare occurrence, you could perhaps forgive Facebook and Twitter. But they are not. These are very frequently appearing in people’s news feeds, especially on Facebook.

So why don’t we contact Facebook or Twitter to discuss the matter? Because we can’t. The most you can do is ‘report’ a post after it appears. But by then it will have potentially appeared in many thousands or more individual feeds. And a day or so later, another one appears. Virtually the same formula every time. And no real way of contacting Facebook or Twitter about the offending posts.

The fact that these continue to appear, especially on Facebook, suggests to me that the only interest by Facebook is in how much more money they can keep pocketing, rather than what is happening to their users who are responsible for the Facebook billions. Facebook does not appear to have the slightest interest in stopping this scam’s continued perpetuation.

If there was ever a reason to start more closely monitoring the social media giants and what they are inflicting on people, their roles in continuing to perpetuate a complete fraud ie a crime, are it. I dare say someone better qualified than me could even make an argument about their liability due to their continued complicity in allowing the posts to be made in return for payment. Something like aiding and abetting? They surely cannot be ignorant of these any longer.

This is not the first time that Facebook behaviour has run close to the wrong side of the law. Several years back, despite many complaints, Facebook refused to take down Facebook pages that were blatant hate speech against Indigenous Australians. Complainants such as me were informed that the pages were not in breach of the Facebook Community Standards. But dare to show a nipple and Facebook staff fell over themselves suspending the ‘offending’ page. It was only when Facebook was finally informed that they were under investigation for potential breach of Australian law by hosting the hate speech pages, that all of a sudden they decided the pages had to go after all. Perhaps we need more legal transgressions to be prosecuted before Facebook will start acting in an appropriate manner?

Australian law enforcement need to go after the big boys. If we are now all responsible for comments made on our individual posts and can be done for defamation due to what someone else posts as a comment, then surely Facebook and Twitter can be held accountable for taking payment for promoting these scams, these frauds, these crimes?

Ross doesn’t bite – a lot – so if you like this piece, feel free to share it and follow Ross’s Rant. But please – don’t use this without contacting me first.

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