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Facebook and Google ‘lack controls to prevent fraudsters posting scam ads online’


FACEBOOK and Google lack effective controls to prevent fraudsters posting scam ads, a probe found.

Consumer group Which? created two linked fake companies to back up their claims.

Facebook and Google lack effective controls to prevent fraudsters posting scam ads, Which? found

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Facebook and Google lack effective controls to prevent fraudsters posting scam ads, Which? foundCredit: Alamy

While both tech giants have improved ad transparency and toughened rules in recent years, it is still possible for false advertising to slip through the net.

They found Google did review the ads submitted, but failed to verify if the business was real and didn’t ask for ID.

In under an hour, the adverts were approved by the search engine firm for both dummy businesses, gaining almost 100,000 impressions over the space of a month.

A fake advert for Natural Hydration – a dummy service offering pseudo health and hydration advice – was displayed above the official NHS Scotland pages when users searched for “hydration advice”.

Using a personal account, Which? created a Facebook business page for Natural Hydration and produced a range of posts with pseudo health advice to promote it.

A paid promotion of the page gained some 500 likes in the space of a week.

Facebook responded saying the page set up by Which? does not violate its community standards and is not currently selling products.

“We remove harmful misinformation that could contribute to physical harm, such as false health claims, and have strict policies against deceptive advertising and scams,” it said.

Google has already set out plans to introduce new rules in the UK from early 2021 which will require all advertisers to complete an identity verification programme.

“Our goal is to make more information about the ad experience universally available and accessible,” the company explained.

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