Facebook and Google ‘dawdle in dealing with scam ads’

google_facebook2Tech giants Facebook and Google stand accused of failing to act fast enough to remove scam ads after they have been reported by victims of fraud, amid claims that rogues are beating the system.

Last month, Which? claimed Microsoft and Google were leaving firms to “run riot” and swindle consumers out of billions of pounds by their slow response.

Now, a new investigation by Which? reveals Google had failed to remove 34% of the scam ads reported to it, while at Facebook the figure was 26%. Both companies insist they remove fraudulent ads, which are banned on their platforms, but Which? is demanding a more proactive approach.

The report also found that 15% of those surveyed had fallen victim to a scam ad and reported it; of these, 27% had been on Facebook and 19% on Google.

However, over two-fifths (43%) of victims admitted they had not reported scams; on Facebook, most people said they had not contacted the company because they doubted anything would be done, while Google users did not know how to report the scam.

Which? researchers said Google’s reporting process was complex and unclear.

The consumer organisation said: “The combination of inaction from online platforms when scam ads are reported, low reporting levels by scam victims and the ease with which advertisers can post new fraudulent adverts – even after the original ad has been removed – suggests that online platforms need to take a far more proactive approach to prevent fraudulent content from reaching potential victims in the first place.”

Which? consumer rights expert Adam French added: “There is no doubt that tech giants, regulators and the government need to go to greater lengths to prevent scams from flourishing.

“Online platforms must be given a legal responsibility to identify, remove and prevent fake and fraudulent content on their sites… and the Government needs to act now.”

A Facebook representative said: “Fraudulent activity is not allowed on Facebook and we have taken action on a number of pages reported to us by Which?”

Google, meanwhile, said it had removed or blocked more than 3.1 billion ads for violating policies.

“We’re constantly reviewing ads, sites and accounts to ensure they comply with our policies,” the company insisted. “We have strict policies that govern the kinds of ads that we allow to run on our platform.

“We enforce those policies vigorously, and if we find ads that are in violation, we remove them. We utilise a mix of automated systems and human review to enforce our policies.”

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