© Trevor CollensFortescue chief Andrew Forrest.
Mining magnate Andrew Forrest has slammed Facebook for facilitating cryptocurrency scams that fraudulently use his identity and urged global governments to coordinate regulation against the social media website.
The billionaire Fortescue Metals founder and chairman criticised Facebook in a letter sent on November 8 to the social media website's founder Mark Zuckerberg, where he warned that innocent people were losing their life savings after being misled by scam advertisements hosted on the site that impersonated him. © BloombergFacebook chief Mark Zuckerberg.
"My family and I have been the subject of scam advertisements on your social media network," he said in the letter, published in The Australian.
"Our images and the images of others are being used to encourage your users to invest in fraudulent cryptocurrency schemes."
He described the practice as "abhorrent" and said Facebook's senior leadership had been informed of the issue that saw them profiting from the advertising revenue.
"You have the power and the technology to prevent these scam advertisements from running on your platform," he said. "Is revenue more important to you than the life savings of elderly people, Mr Zuckerberg?"
Similar criticisms have been raised against the social media platform by Nine Entertainment Co, owner of this masthead, over scam ads impersonating television identities including Deborah Knight and Eddie McGuire.
Mr McGuire sent legal letters to Facebook after he was told about spoof ads claiming he used treatment for erectile dysfunction.
The issue has become part of the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission's world-first inquiry into Facebook and Google and their impact on traditional publishers, consumer rights and advertising revenues.
The competition watchdog's final report warned of an increase in scam behaviour and the "use of digital platforms to facilitate such conduct" and suggested the government consider creating a new ombudsman to help resolve complaints about fraudulent advertisements and other problems.
Mr Forrest has taken this a step further and suggested governments across the world work together to tackle the issue.
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"As your socially reprehensible recalcitrance has continued, a concerted international effort is required to secure independent oversight and accountability for Facebook's operations," he said in the letter.
"I am therefore calling on governments around the world to update their regulatory and legislative frameworks to ensure society is protected from the harm Facebook facilitates by allowing scammers to advertise on its platform ... It's time for a scam free social media."
A Facebook spokesperson said the company was focused on preventing the scams.
"We do not allow these scams on our services and we take swift action to remove them as soon as we become aware. These scammers use sophisticated cloaking technology to mask content so that it shows different versions to our ad review systems than it does to people," the spokesperson said in a statement.
"This is a clear violation of our policies as ads must not use tactics intended to circumvent our ad review process or other enforcement systems. This is an adversarial issue, and not unique to Facebook, however we're making significant investments in scaled detection technology to prevent these scams.
"We now have more than 35,000 people working on safety and security, and our security budget today is greater than the entire revenue of our company at the time of our IPO."
Facebook's advertising guidelines state that any marketing "must not contain deceptive, false, or misleading content, including deceptive claims, offers, or business practices" and the site has been trialling complaint tools to better report ads that may be trying to scam users.