Bitcoin scam ads, luring Facebook users with promises of riches using binary trading platforms, continue to plague the social network, which is still battling against waning investor confidence after a myriad of scandals over the last two years.
Despite the recent fall in the bitcoin price, scammers are using the cryptocurrency to tempt Facebook users into get rich quick schemes that claim to guarantee huge payouts in exchange for a small “investment.”
Facebook shares have come under heavy pressure this year as the company’s senior management and founder Mark Zuckerberg wrestle with how the platform is being used by people around the world to manipulate others, on both an individual and a global scale, and how it handles user data.
The use of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies by scammers during bitcoin’s epic bull run last year, which saw the bitcoin price soar from under $1,000 at the start of 2017 to almost $20,000 in fewer than 12 months, led to Facebook banning bitcoin and related cryptocurrency ads in January.
Facebook updated that policy in June, allowing pre-approved advertisers to use its platform for cryptocurrency products and services—reflecting the expectation that the traditional financial industry is gearing up to enter the bitcoin and crypto space.
Facebook says it continues to prohibit binary trading options and initial coin offerings (ICOs), the latter used by startup companies to raise funds without the regulatory oversight provided by traditional routes.
It appears these bitcoin scams are still appearing on the social network, however, with scammers altering the words used in the ads to slip under Facebook’s scam-spotting algorithms.
Facebook, it should be noted, is not the only social network to be plagued by bitcoin and cryptocurrency scams, with micro-blogging site Twitter struggling against a rising tide of bots and scammers impersonating celebrities and public personalities from Tesla boss Elon Musk to singer Katy Perry.
The Facebook scam ads seen by this reporter have used well-known names such as TV presenters Holly Willoughby and Philip Schofield, and Martin Lewis, who created the popular Money Saving Expert financial advice website.
Earlier this year Lewis launched a lawsuit against Facebook for failing to prevent scammers from using his name and picture to promote scams.
“This is a constant flood, though the number of ads involving my face appear to have dropped. Once the ones featuring me began to disappear, others started to appear. They’re about a scam feeling warm and cuddly with a well-known and trust face,” Lewis told this reporter.
“People ask me if the products being advertised are any good but the ads are just a scam! There’s nothing to them. People need to be very careful because some have lost life lost changing amounts of money.
“It adds credibility to the scams being on these kinds of social media platforms. People would expect them to be doing their due diligence when it comes to the ads they feature, but evidently they are not.”
Lewis launched his lawsuit in April and remains locked in talks with Facebook executives as the two parties discuss an out-of-court settlement. If it does go to court and Lewis is successful, he has said he will donate any damages he is awarded to charity.
What Lewis is requesting from Facebook is not know, however it has been reported by Business Insider following an interview with Lewis that he is seeking compensation from Facebook for those who have been stung by the scam ads.
A Facebook spokesperson said the company would investigate the ad but was unable to say how many people had viewed it or how long it had been active.
Mike Schroepfer, Facebook’s chief technology officer, told British lawmakers in April that the social network plans to use facial recognition to help stamp out scam ads, but admitted that it is “challenging to do technically at scale.”
The Facebook share price has fallen almost $100 since July, down nearly 40% from its all-time high, as Facebook is scrutinized by lawmakers around the world over how it handles user data and misinformation.
Adding to Facebook’s woes, British politicians yesterday released documents relating to Facebook that suggest the social media giant collected user data without those users’ knowledge.
The chair of the committee investigating fake news and how it spreads on platforms such as Facebook, Damian Collins MP, tweeted: “We don’t feel we have had straight answers from Facebook… which is why we’re releasing the documents.”