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Dutch billionaire sues Facebook over fake Bitcoin ads

Authorities in the Netherlands have ruled that Facebook must remove adverts promoting the likeness of Dutch businessman John de Mol and take measures to prevent further scams

Dutch billionaire and media tycoon John de Mol has taken legal action against Facebook after discovering a number of fraudulent crypto adverts featuring his image being promoted on the social media platform.

According to a report by Reuters, crypto scammers in the Netherlands have been taking to Facebook and urging people to buy Bitcoin using fake adverts. The con artists have been using the likeness of John de Mol to legitimise their scams.

John de Mol is best known for being the creator of the original Dutch versions of Big Brother and The Voice.

Following the appearance of his likeness in Facebook ads created by Bitcoin scammers, de Mol proceeded to sue the social media giant, claiming that it hadn’t taken steps to protect investors and had repeatedly failed to respond to requests to remove the ads.

Mr de Mol also requested that Facebook hands over user information about the individuals perpetrating the scam.

Facebook’s legal representatives argued in Dutch court that the company has removed the fraudulent adverts and that is where its responsibility ends.

Facebook’s stance on crypto ads

The issue of Bitcoin and cryptocurrency adverts has long been a matter of debate by Facebook officials, who previously elected to ban all adverts related to digital currencies or blockchain.

Facebook overturned its decision on May 8, stating that adverts will no longer require approval. Some believe this move was in preparation for the launch of Libra.

However, since the ban was lifted, there has been a fresh wave of adverts associated with fraudulent schemes.

A company spokesperson for Facebook remarked:

“This ruling does not change our commitment to fighting these types of ads. We cannot stress enough that these types of ads have absolutely no place on Facebook, and we remove them when we find them.”

Despite this statement, the Dutch court found that Facebook’s role in promoting and approving these adverts on its platform was “too active” to argue that the company is simply a neutral funnel for information.

The authorities asserted that as adverts formed the core of Facebook’s business model, it was unreasonable for Facebook not to be obligated to act on such matters.

The Dutch court ordered that the ads be removed. However, it’s unclear at this time if de Mol was successful in ordering Facebook to reveal information on the scammers.

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