MoneySavingExpert.com founder and Good Morning Britain presenter Martin Lewis has dropped his legal action against Facebook for sanctioning a series of ads on its platform, which used his image to falsely endorse investment schemes.
The consumer champion had claimed that the fake endorsements had caused him reputational damage but has agreed to drop the case after Facebook vowed to introduce a scam ads reporting button as well as donate £3m to a new Citizens Advice project.
The scheme, which will launch in May, will be dedicated to identifying and fighting online scams and supporting their victims. It will include work to develop tools to help the public identify fraudulent activity.
“The amount being donated to set up the Citizens Advice scams action project is far above anything I could have won had I succeeded in a court,” Lewis said in a statement.
“The aim of my campaigning lawsuit was always to stop scam ads and to help those who have fallen victim to them. What we’re announcing today does that at a far bigger scale than I could’ve hoped for.”
Lewis claimed that more than 1,000 fake ads had appeared on Facebook bearing his image and name. Some pictured him giving advice on ITV’s This Morning programme, while others carried the BBC logo.
Facebook had initially defended its role, saying that it already taken down all ads that infringed Lewis’ rights which were brought to its attention.
But the two parties now appear to have buried the hatchet. Facebook vice-president for Northern Europe Steve Hatch said: “We’re grateful to Lewis for bringing attention to this important issue and for his guidance over the last eight months. We look forward to working with Citizens Advice, Lewis and his team, and with others in the industry to continue to explore solutions to this ever-evolving challenge.”
Lewis added: “It shouldn’t have taken the threat of legal action to get here. Yet once we started talking, Facebook quickly realised the scale of the problem, its impact on real people, and agreed to commit to making a difference both on its own platform, and across the wider sector.”
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