Hardly a month since the Cambridge Analytica saga blew up, Facebook (FB) is facing yet another lawsuit. UK-based Martin Lewis, who runs MoneySavingExpert.com portal, has filed a defamation suit against the social media firm for running fake ads showing his face and name. Lawsuits are not new to Facebook. But post the Cambridge Analytica scandal, things are getting worse for the firm, with numerous lawsuits coming its way. Shares of the company are down 8% this year shaving off nearly $50 billion of its market cap.
Apart from running the portal, Lewis is a well-known face in the UK when it comes to consumer finance and their rights. He hosts the “The Martin Lewis Money Show” on ITV, which offers tips to viewers relating to consumer rights and how to manage their money. Lewis has filed a defamation suit against Facebook for showing 50 fake adverts with his name, which are allegedly misleading users and putting his reputation at stake.
According to Lewis, the fake ads show that he backs these so-called “binary trading” schemes, which are extremely risky for novices. He adds that these ads could be “fronts for binary trading firms” based outside the European Union. It’s worth noting that Lewis never endorses any products, and has already informed Facebook on the same. Although Facebook has removed the fake ads after he reported, scammers used to find out a way to feature it again.
In January, Facebook had banned all ads related to cryptocurrency, which were mostly scams putting people’s money at risk. Also, the company has stated it would take off any ads that are misleading or not in line with its policies. But the moot point here seems to be that execution at Facebook’s end is not foolproof. The social media giant has a whopping 2.1 billion users in its platform but only 10,000 employees to review malicious content, according to Facebook’s own stats.
Last year, Facebook general counsel Colin Stretch testified before the Senate and committed to double the content moderation team to 20,000 by end of this year. Still, with the amount of content generated by its users, this number looks paltry. Out of this, how many are tasked with ad reviews is not clear. In 2017, Facebook’s revenue stood at $40.6 billion, of which the company claims nearly 98% comes from advertising. Hence, the company has its task cut out to make sure that the ads featured in the platform are in line with its guidelines and is implemented properly.
Regarding Lewis defamation case, experts feel there are some questions which are unclear. Since the case has been filed in London, it’s not clear whether the UK has jurisdiction to look into the issue. Another important question is whether Facebook can be made responsible for the content shown on the site, since the company has been claiming that it’s a mere platform and not the publisher. Regardless of how Lewis’ defamation case is going to unfold in the coming months, Mark Zuckerberg and his team have a daunting task at hand.
Facebook is reporting its first quarter earnings on Wednesday, April 25, after the bell.
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