Australia’s competition watchdog is suing Facebook’s parent company Meta Platforms Inc. and Meta Platforms Ireland Ltd. in federal court over allegations of publishing fraudulent cryptocurrency advertisements featuring Australian public figures.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has alleged that Meta is in breach of the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) or the Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act (ASIC Act), according to a declaration released Friday, March 18.

The regulator also alleged that Meta “aids and abets or is knowingly concerned with false or misleading conduct and representations by advertisers.”

The adverts featured prominent Australians, including businessman Dick Smith, TV presenter David Koch and former NSW Premier Mike Baird, and allegedly promoted crypto investments or money-making businesses. The people featured never approved the advertisements or approved the investment plans, according to the statement.

Links in the ads led Facebook users to a fake news article with quotes attributed to the public figure. Users then received an invitation to join, followed by high-pressure sales tactics to join the program.

Read more: Coinbase, eToro Crypto Ads Banned For Misleading Consumers, Says UK Ads Regulator

“The essence of our case is that Meta is liable for these advertisements it posts on its platform,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims said.

“It’s a key part of Meta’s business to allow advertisers to target users most likely to click the link in an ad to visit the ad’s landing page, using Facebook’s algorithms. These visits to landing pages from ads generate substantial revenue for Facebook,” Sims said.

The ACCC alleged that Meta knew Facebook was using the fraudulent cryptocurrency ads but did nothing to stop it, even after public figures complained that similar ads were being used around the world without their knowledge. consent.

“We allege that Meta’s technology enabled these advertisements to be targeted to users most likely to interact with the advertisements, that Meta assured its users that it would detect and prevent spam, and promote security on Facebook, but it did not stop others from posting similar celebrity-sponsored cryptocurrency scam ads on its pages or warn users,” Sims said. “Meta should have done more to detect and then remove false or misleading ads on Facebook, to prevent consumers from falling victim to ruthless scammers.”

Related: Celebrities and Influencers Are Running Crypto Ads on Social Media

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