- REUTERS/Simon Newman
- British millionaire Martin Lewis will drop his legal case against Facebook over thousands of scam ads on the platform that featured his face.
- Lewis is best known as the founder of the Money Saving Expert website.
- As part of its settlement with Lewis, Facebook is donating £3 million ($4 million) to the UK’s Citizens Advice to educate people about scams and to help victims.
- Facebook is also going to introduce a tool to monitor scam ads in the UK.
- Lewis praised Facebook for its action, and warned online advertising platforms like Google that they need to do more.
British millionaire Martin Lewis is dropping his lawsuit against Facebook for allowing scam bitcoin adverts featuring his image to spread on the platform.
Lewis and Facebook announced the update at a press conference on Wednesday.
In April 2018 the millionaire founder of MoneySavingExpert.com took legal action against Facebook to address thousands of online scam ads that appeared on the platform featuring his face, implying his endorsement.
Lewis said he had been accused by one man of having scammed him out of £19,000 ($25,000). He also said a woman in Scotland had lost £150,000 (£195,000) to a scam featuring his face on its ad.
Eight months later, Lewis and Facebook have come to an agreement. Facebook is donating £3 million ($4 million) to Citizens Advice in the UK to set up a new project to help prevent and educate people about scams, as well as providing counsel to victims or potential victims. The project won’t be up and running until May.
Facebook is also creating a new button for UK users which will allow them to report potential scam ads. A new dedicated team at Facebook will then review these reports. Facebook’s regional director for Northern Europe, Steve Hatch, said that if the new tool proves effective, it could be rolled out to more countries.
Lewis said he much preferred this outcome to taking Facebook to court, where he believes he could have won £50,000 to £100,000.
Speaking to reporters, he then sounded a warning shot to other online advertising platforms, most notably Google.
“Over the last few weeks I have again been plagued by scam adverts,” he said. “A few of them have been on Facebook, and when we’ve told Facebook they came down very quickly. I can’t expect more, I accept the technology isn’t perfect. What I want is proactive response, good team setup and [the adverts] being taken down quickly. But that’s not the case with Google.”
“The problem with Google is ads on Google are not just on Google. They’re on websites, they’re on apps. You don’t know who’s serving the advert,” he added. Lewis said Yahoo’s platform had similar problems, and sounded a warning to all online advertising platforms.
“I’m not ruling out another lawsuit if things do not improve,” Lewis concluded.
A Google spokesman told Business Insider:
“Because we want the ads people see on Google to be useful and relevant, we take immediate action to prevent fake and inappropriate ads. We have a tool where anyone can report these ads and these complaints are reviewed manually by our team. In 2017, we removed 3.2 billion bad ads and we’re constantly updating our policies as we see new threats emerge.”