Finance

Billionaire’s suit over scam crypto ads on Meta dismissed in Australia

A suit filed by Australian mining billionaire Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest against Meta has been dropped by the District Court of Western Australia. Forrest claimed that scam crypto ads on Meta platforms bearing his image led to big losses for innocent people. Prosecutors said there was insufficient evidence.

Forrest, the chairman of Fortescue Metals and the second-richest person in Australia, personally filed criminal charges against Meta in February 2022 under Commonwealth Criminal Code Anti-Money Laundering sections, claiming the social media giant “knowingly profits from this cycle of illegal ads” and failed to remove them. He had to receive the Australian attorney general’s approval to file the suit.

In an open letter to Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg in November 2019, Forrest demanded that Meta, which operates Facebook and Instagram, among other platforms, take down fraudulent ads and prevent his image from being misused.

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Meta pleaded not guilty to the charges in December 2023. A spokesperson for the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions confirmed to Reuters that the suit had been dropped for lack of evidence but did not elaborate further. In a statement provided to The Guardian, Forrest said:

“It shows that Facebook is beyond the laws of Australia, that hardworking Australians are not protected, and that scams will continue to run rampant with no recourse for those who are duped by increasingly sophisticated technology on social media platforms that take no responsibility.”

A Meta spokesperson told Reuters, “Meta doesn’t want scams on its platforms and we will continue to work tirelessly to prevent them and protect our users.”

A scam ad showing Andrew Forrest. Source: Crikey

Forrest filed a civil suit against Meta in California Northern District Court in June 2022, citing six counts and claiming that “Facebook’s self-help advertising interface materially helped scammers develop” ads. Meta filed a motion to dismiss that case in January.

Source: Dylan Lindgren

Scams using Forrest’s image have continued to appear since the billionaire took action against Meta. Cybertrace found deep-fake images of Forrest in ads on Facebook in February.

Alphabet, the parent company of Google, sued two people in China on April 4, claiming they were behind scam apps that had been downloaded from the platform over 100,000 times.

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