John de Mol, a Dutch media tycoon and creator of the “Big Brother” reality TV show, has slapped Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook with a lawsuit on June 5, 2019, claiming that the social media network allowed his name and image to be used in advertisements promoting a bitcoin (BTC) scam scheme, according to a Reuters report on June 5, 2019.
Dutch Billionaire Sues Facebook
Lawyers of the billionaire told an Amsterdam District Court judge that Facebook had failed to prevent the ads from being publicized on its platform and did not act in a timely manner to take down the advertisements as at when notified.
The ads in question encouraged people to send money to buy bitcoin or invest in a fraudulent cryptocurrency-related business with claims that De Mol had endorsed it or is backing the venture.
Lawyers Claim reputational Damage
While the ads have since been taken down, De Mol’s lawyers insist that it damaged their client’s reputation. As such, they have asked the court to order Facebook to fix its procedures in order to automatically block any ads featuring De Mol.
The lawyers also claimed that advertisements falsely using De Mol’s identity have led to a loss of 1.7 million euros on the part of investors and these ads are only one among several others impersonating Dutch celebrities.
Interestingly, De Mol has also asked Facebook to provide information regarding the perpetrators of the crime so that it can be duly handed over to the police for proper investigation.
Facebook Won’t Monitor Ads
Speaking from Facebook’s camp, their lawyer, Jens van den Brink, has reportedly stated that the company cannot be forced to monitor all ads on its platform at all times, and it had taken measures to take down the fraudulent ads when its attention was drawn to the issue.
The lawyer also revealed that Facebook had recently met with the Authority for the Financial Markets (AFM), the Dutch financial markets regulator, in a bid to discuss ways of curbing the activities of rogue actors.
Jacqueline Schaap, a legal practitioner who also made comments said Facebook should prevent such actions from recurring, and its current vetting process which partly relies on user feedback is not enough.
One more comment in that direction was from Judge Remmine Dudok van Heel who said that she does not use Facebook but asked Van den Brink if Facebook carries out critical examination of a webpage’s content which is linked to the ads.
In response, Van den Brink said Facebook makes these verifications but advertisers have still found a way to trick the company’s software by replacing the links in the ads or disguising the content on the linked pages.
The judge has, however, not passed a verdict and has neither set a date for another hearing. She hopes that the two sides may come to a sort of an agreement.
It’s worth noting that this is not the first time Facebook is getting sued for publishing fake adverts on its platform.
In April 2018, BTCManager informed that British TV star, Martin Lewis had slapped Facebook with a lawsuit for allowing scammers to promote their get-rich-quick schemes with his image.