The universe of deception?


Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images

Which challenges does Meta* corporation face?

Recently, this organization, recognized as extremist in Russia, has been facing more and more claims from large businesses and even its own shareholders.

In late March, Free TV Australia, which represents Australian broadcasters, claimed that fraudulent advertisements featuring their TV presenters and fake news stories had caused harm to users for several years.

Images of TV stars were used to lure people into fake contests and crypto-fraud.

Fraudsters also created fake pages under the branding of one of the group's TV channels, replying to users in the comments, telling them that they had won a prize.

Last March, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission helped bring the case in federal court, alleging that Meta* "aided and abetted" the distribution of fraudulent advertisements that cost some Australians hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The regulator said that losses from social media advertising scams have nearly doubled from a reported $49 million in 2020 to $92 million in 2021, and the numbers are likely to be even higher because most victims don't report the scams.

The case is still under consideration, but Free TV Australia said that despite the action taken by the regulator, the corporation's actions remain "inadequate." "Fake ads continue to appear quickly after being removed. These inadequate moderation processes damage the business reputation of broadcasters as well as the personal reputations of celebrities and media personalities who are misrepresented," the organization said in a statement.

"Despite the significant damage to consumers from these fraudulent activities, combined with reputational damage to presenters, digital platforms have been slow to respond to removal requests."

Free TV said the platforms have an obligation to ensure that the content they publish is not "fake, harmful, misleading or defamatory," and called for the labeling of fake ads.

The representative of Meta* noted that scammers in the Internet space has always been a problem, and they appear not only on social networking platforms, and the corporation allocates large resources to combat them.

Except that even the company's own shareholders do not agree with this position. So, according to Reuters, a number of U.S. pension and investment funds that own shares of the company, sued Meta * and its top managers. They argue that the company does not fight against criminal activity in its social networks, because of which the interests of shareholders are affected.

Badly regulated advertising also damages the image of politicians. In Australia, earlier this year, there was a major scandal concerning the use of the appearance of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.

According to a Facebook* ad archive, since the beginning of this year, a music page with 14,000 subscribers has posted 51 ads with between a thousand and 15 views. It contained links to fake news sites detailing an "investment opportunity" and featured poorly photoshopped images of an Australian politician who had allegedly been arrested, with the headlines, "Didn't know the camera was still recording" and "Is this the end of his career?"

Meta* again escaped with traditional explanations, but the problem of deepfakes with the constant development of this technology is becoming more and more acute, and scammers and various political forces can go even further. In this case, the negligently working mechanisms of site moderation can spur a much stronger political scandal.

A Dutch court also has questions for the company: On March 15, the body hearing the class action lawsuit found that Facebook Ireland, a European subsidiary of Meta*, had improperly used personal data of Dutch citizens between 2010 and 2020.

The court ruled that the company violated the law because the personal information was processed for advertising purposes, although in this case it is prohibited. It was also found that personal information had been shared with third parties without notifying the users and without legal grounds for doing so.

All of the lawsuits come against a backdrop of unprecedented layoffs at the company, and, apparently, a very tense management environment. In February, it was reported that the company was increasing its spending on the personal security of CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg. The costs will increase by $4 million, reaching $14 million.

The company's board said the increase "was appropriate and necessary under the circumstances," and was introduced to address security concerns because of specific threats arising from Zuckerberg's position.

He is allowed to use the money to pay for additional personnel, equipment, services, and housing improvements and other security-related needs. Zuckerberg's personal security expenses were last reviewed in 2018, and were set at $10 million.

It is impossible to evaluate such a decision of the company without knowing the whole situation, but it can be stated that such a step may indicate an involuntary revision of the overall company strategy, because before Zuckerberg was positioned as a modest philanthropist receiving a salary of $ 1, but now you can see the image of a tough businessman hiding from disgruntled employees behind the guards and high walls.

Meta*, however, is increasingly buried in its own strategy of chasing profits, which focused, among other things, on advertising revenue. Now they are falling, including because of litigation, plus we can assume that advertisers do not want to associate their brands with fraudsters, and given the images used, it cannot be ruled out that such stories could turn into another congressional hearing and lawsuits around the world.

And while American authorities have no time to deal with this now, due to the passionate fight against TikTok, in Europe, for example, the legislation is extremely strict, not tolerating answers about big efforts to moderate advertising.

*Recognized as extremist and banned in the Russian Federation.