Meta which owns Facebook is a cesspool of scams. Scams on Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram are on the rise and Meta has repeatedly ignored and failed to take necessary action especially when it comes to allowing scam ads on its platform. Our neighbouring country Thailand seems to have had enough and they are seeking legal action to shut down Meta’s Facebook operations unless it takes action over scams that have affected more than 200,000 people.
Thailand is fed up with inaction from Meta to tackle scam ads
As reported by Reuters, Thailand’s Minister of Digital Economy and Society, Chaiwut Thanakamanusorn, is asking the court to close down Facebook and not allow them to provide services in Thailand if they continue to let fake pages scam people. In a statement released by his ministry, they have made repeated requests for advertisements it had identified as scams to be taken down by Facebook but the problem persisted and it would seek court intervention.
The Ministry’s spokesperson Wetang Phuangsup told Reuters that they are gathering evidence of wrongdoing by Facebook that would be presented to the court. The spokesperson said “If there is a lot of wrongdoing, the court could close down pages and accounts. Or the court could close the entire platform.”
The spokesperson said that the scams on Facebook included luring users to invest in fake companies, faking government bodies such as the Securities and Exchange Commission and trading in digital currencies. Obviously, frustrated with the situation, he said “They can’t do business like this”.
As we have reported repeatedly, Meta has not shown any seriousness in tackling Facebook scam ads which cause huge financial losses to Malaysian users. Between January to May 2023, Malaysians have lost nearly RM330 million to scams on the Meta platforms, which represents a 25% increase over the full year of 2022.
Most of these scams can be prevented if Meta conducts basic checks on new advertisers and they establish a local moderation team that can quickly filter and remove scam ads that were reported by Malaysian users. Meta told us that they rely on algorithms to prevent scams but it is clear that manual intervention is required as their algorithms clearly do not work. For a company that makes billions of dollars in advertising, it is its responsibility to ensure all ads have been vetted and approved to ensure safety for its users.
Instead of doubling down on moderation efforts, Mark Zuckerberg wants users to pay for a monthly subscription service called meta Verified which supposedly provides faster customer service and better protection against impersonation. Tackling scams ads should be the basic responsibility for digital platforms and it is unethical for Meta to charge as high as RM41.99/month for protection against impersonation.
Despite rising scams, Malaysia appears to be soft with Meta
The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) has called for more intervention to punish platforms that allow scam ads in Malaysia. When asked about possible actions against Meta, the MCMC told us that its power to act on social media platforms is limited as the current policies are ineffective on platforms hosted overseas.
In June, the MCMC said Malaysia is taking legal action against Meta for failing to tackle Facebook scam ads, impersonation and inappropriate content. However, last month, Communications and Digital Minister Fahmi Fadzil says there are no plans to draft laws to hold social media companies accountable for fake news.
What’s even more mind-blogging is that the minister said recently in an interview with Reuters that he doesn’t think MCMC’s legal action is necessary to tackle Facebook scam ads. It was reported that Malaysia has decided not to take action following “positive” engagement with the social media giant which owns Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. He said Meta has given their firm commitment to work with Malaysian authorities, including the regulator and the police, to tackle such posts on its platforms.
The question is, what is the commitment given by Meta? Have they agreed to conduct mandatory checks on new ads targeting Malaysians? Are they setting up a moderation team to provide a faster turnaround time to remove fake pages and scam ads? Looking at the global trend, Meta would only behave if there are laws and policies to inflict serious business implications for failing to tackle scam ads. What is Malaysia doing to hold these platforms accountable for scams?
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- Despite rising scams, Fahmi doesn’t think MCMC’s legal action is necessary to tackle Facebook scam ads
- MCMC wants telcos to be responsible for scams and fake news. This raises concerns about internet freedom
- Fahmi: Malaysians lost nearly RM330 mil to scams on Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp between Jan to May 2023
- Malaysia takes legal action against Meta for failing to tackle Facebook scams ads, impersonation and inappropriate content