Facebook and fraud

Posted: July 26, 2020 in Ranting
Tags: , , ,

Facebook. The massive social media organisation is never far away from the news for one reason or another. But one thing I am not seeing them being reported on, is how Facebook might potentially be involved in fraud, either before or after the fact.

Pretty serious sounding stuff, isn’it.

Facebook have shown themselves reluctant in the past to bother with something as tawdry as abiding by the laws of the jurisdictions in which they operate. Some years ago, I was one of many people trying to get Facebook to remove pages that were blatant hate speech against Indigenous Australians. And they consistently refused to do so. Even when shown how the pages were in breach of its Community Standards, Facebook still refused to act against the offending items.

Complaints made their way up to the relevant Australian authorities and the Minister at the time. That resulted in Facebook being publicly warned that the offending items appeared to be breaching Australia law. But Facebook still left the pages there spewing their filth. It was only when Facebook was publicly warned that it was being formally investigated for breach of Australian laws, that it decided perhaps it better do something after all.

It then emerged there is a high-level committee designed to inform and advise the Australian government on matters to do with the Internet. And Facebook was represented on that committee by the head of its operations here in Australia. That made it even more staggering that Facebook had simply ignored its obligations here in the Australian jurisdiction.

So why bring all that up again?

For at a guess at least two years now, Facebook has been posting sponsored posts in the that are nothing short of fraud. These posts inevitably lead you to items that are dressed up to look like items from news media. Logos and names of Australian news organisations proliferate throughout the ‘article’. Names and pictures of Australian personalities are used. The most recent one appearing in my Facebook feed featured Dick Smith.

These items are always ‘reporting’ on alleged interviews by those personalities, usually claiming to have occurred on Channel Ten’s the Project. These items always claim amazing success of crypto-currency trading schemes. The latest item claimed that the National Australia Bank attempted to have The Project’s interview from being aired.

The problem is that there never was any such interview. It is 100 per cent fraud. People like Dick Smith never gave any such interview to anyone, let alone to Waleed Aly on The Project.

If the perpetrators were not making money from those frauds, they would not still be pushing them. So, there must be people falling for the scam on the basis of all those fraudulent details.

These are ‘sponsored’ posts. A ‘sponsored post’ is something for which Facebook takes a fee in return for ensuring those items appear at the top of people’s Facebook news feeds. So, Facebook is accepting payment for its role in promoting fraudulent scams.

You could give Facebook a fair go if this were an occasional thing, slipping through without Facebook staff realising it. The problem, however, is the great frequency with which these sponsored posts are appearing. Weekly is not overstatement.

When such scams appear, the individual can ‘report’ these to Facebook by clicking on the appropriate place. By glancing at the comments beneath the posts before I hit the ‘report’ button, it is clear plenty of other people are reporting them as well. But these items keep on appearing, so it is rather hard to believe Facebook take these reports seriously enough to stop allowing publication of the frauds.

It would be great if we could place a written complaint to Facebook. Except you cannot. There is no general contact facility for Facebook which would allow you to detail your concerns.

Facebook still operates within Australia. It has offices in Sydney somewhere, but I have completely failed to find any contact address. Rather convenient if they do not want people formally complaining to them about these frauds and Facebook’s role with them.

It is beyond belief that after this much time having passed, that Facebook is not aware of the details of these fraudulent posts. But the posts keep appearing. And they keep appearing as sponsored posts. That means Facebook continues to accept payment for its role in promoting those frauds.

To obtain money by fraudulent conduct is a crime in Australia. It can also be a crime to do things before or after the fact to support such frauds. So exactly why are Facebook doing it and nobody in authority seems to be doing anything about it?

Do we need criminal investigations to commence before Facebook will do anything to respect Australian laws and stop Australians from being victims of the fraud that Facebook appears to be supporting?

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