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Lawsuits & Litigation

Australian Billionaire Sues Facebook for Failing to Remove Scam Ads

— February 3, 2022

Australian mining magnate Andrew Forrest says he’s been asking Facebook to take action against scammers using his likeness for years.

An Australian billionaire has filed a lawsuit against Facebook, claiming the company failed to remove scam advertisements that used his image.

According to mining magnate Andrew Forrest’s lawsuit, Facebook was “criminally reckless” because it did not take “sufficient steps to stop criminals from using its social media platform to send scam advertisements to defraud Australian users.”

CNN notes that Forrest is the founder of Fortescue Metal Groups, among the world’s largest producers of iron ore. He also controls Minara Resources, which is one of Australia’s biggest nickel mining companies.

While Forrest’s lawsuit was recently filed in an Australian court, the billionaire’s complaints against the social media company are nothing new. In 2019, for instance, Forrest publicly asked Facebook to take action against scammers who were using his image without authorization.

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckberberg in 2018. Image via Wikimedia Commons/user: Anthony Quintano. (CCA-BY-2.0).

Forrest says he made “many requests” to Facebook before taking legal action.

Before filing his lawsuit, Forrest sought permission from Australia’s attorney general, Michael Cash, to bring charges in civil court. CNN notes that litigation involving foreign companies must be authorized by Australia’s top prosecutor.

Cash “accepted our submissions that fraudulent on-line scams cost Australians millions of dollars each year and many of the victims are vulnerable people,” said Steven Lewis, principal at Mark O’Brien Legal, the firm representing Forrest. “There is therefore a public interest in the proposed prosecution.”

On Wednesday, Forrest released a statement to media saying he wants social media companies like Facebook to “use much more of their vast resources and billions of dollars in annual revenue to protect vulnerable people.”

“This action is being taken on behalf of those everyday Australians – Mums and Dads, Grans and Grandads – who work all their lives to gather their savings and to ensure those savings aren’t swindled away by scammers,” Forrest said.

While Forrest said he was “acting here for Australians,” similar abuses are “happening all over the world.”

CNN reports that Facebook’s use policies prohibit advertisers from using the unauthorized likeness of public figures.

Although Facebook declined comment on Forrest’s lawsuit, its parent company, Meta, told CNN that it takes a “multifaceted approach” to stopping potentially deceptive advertisements.

“We work not just to detect and reject the ads themselves but also block advertisers from our services and, in some cases, take court action to enforce our policies,” a Meta spokesperson said in a statement. “We’re committed to keeping these people off our platform.”

If Facebook is found liable, it will face a maximum penalty of approximately $90,000 USD for each of Forrest’s three accusations.


Australian mining billionaire files lawsuit against Facebook over scam ads

Australian mining magnate takes legal action against Facebook over scam ads

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