Facebook has agreed to donate £3m ($3.9m, €3.4m) to advice charity Citizens Advice to help deliver a UK investment scams prevention service.
This comes after the tech company reached an out-of-court settlement with MoneySavingExpert founder Martin Lewis over his defamation lawsuit against scam investment adverts on Facebook’s website.
In April 2018, Lewis issued High Court proceedings for defamation against Facebook, as the company admitted over 1,000 scam adverts abusing his name or image had appeared on the site.
After settling out of court, Facebook will assist Citizens Advice to roll out a UK Scams Action project (Casa) in May 2019.
It will also launch a scam ad reporting tool on its site, unique to the UK, and a dedicated team to handle these complaints in the next few months.
Lewis said: “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.
“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 [on 23 January] does that at a far bigger scale than I could’ve hoped for.
“I’d call on the other major players; both social media and advertising platforms, including Google, to follow Facebook’s lead, accept things must change and put their hands in their pockets to help Citizens Advice scams action too.”
Casa, which launches in May 2019, will allow Citizens Advice to independently take on scam prevention work, including identifying and tackling online scams that impact people in the UK, and supporting victims.
It will aim to:
• Increase UK public education and awareness about digital scam ads and how to recognise them.
• Provide one-to-one tailored support to victims of online scams and help people recognise such scams.
• Work on the development of online tools to help consumers, including victims, spot online scams.
Facebook will fund it through a £2.5m donation in cash over the next two years and £500,000-worth of Facebook ads, issued in tranches over the next three years.
Citizens Advice will run the project independently on a day-to-day basis, although Facebook will work with it to develop the technology.