Why was Martin taking legal action against Facebook?
In April 2018, acting in a personal capacity, Martin launched a campaigning defamation lawsuit against Facebook, initially seeking exemplary damages to spur change to prevent these ads. He pledged any and all money paid out to him would be donated to anti-scam charities.
Fake Martin Lewis adverts often appeared on Facebook and other sites, and are regularly seen, likely by millions of people in the UK. These adverts are often for scams. Many have big pictures of Martin and his name, alongside a raft of false promises or endorsements – some then link on to fake articles which continue the theme.
What will the Citizens Advice scams action project do?
The Citizens Advice scams action project (CASA) will allow the charity to independently take on scam prevention work, including identifying and tackling online scams that impact people in the UK, and supporting victims. (Important: This will not launch until May 2019, so please do not contact Citizens Advice about it yet).
It will aim to:
- Increase UK public education and awareness about digital scam ads and how to recognise them.
- Provide one-to-one tailored support to victims of online scams and help people recognise such scams.
- Work on the development of online tools to help consumers, including victims, spot online scams.
The project will launch in May 2019. Facebook will fund it through a £2.5m donation in cash over the next two years and £500,000-worth of Facebook ads, issued in tranches over the next three years.
Citizens Advice will run the project independently on a day-to-day basis, although Facebook will work with it to develop the technology.
What will Facebook’s new scam ad reporting tool do?
As part of the settlement, Facebook will also develop a new tool for UK Facebook users to easily and quickly flag ads that they believe to be scams violating Facebook’s advertising rules or other policies.
Facebook says this will help it keep pace with new scams and gather feedback from users to understand the issue.
It will also create a dedicated team to handle these reports, investigate trends and enforce against offending ads. The team will be trained to deal with the issue.
What does Facebook say?
Steve Hatch, Facebook’s regional director for northern Europe, said: “We’re grateful to Martin Lewis for bringing attention to this important issue and for his guidance over the last eight months.
“Our donation to Citizens Advice and our launch of a new UK scam ad reporting tool and dedicated operations team for this reporting channel is part of a wider commitment to tackling scams and to ensuring people are given more transparency and control over the ads they see on Facebook.
“We look forward to working with Citizens Advice, Martin Lewis and his team, and with others in the industry to continue to explore solutions to this ever-evolving challenge.”