Monday, 2 Oct 2023

Facebook must pay back fraud victims, say MPs

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Bosses of platforms including Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and TikTok, were also criticised by MPs on the Commons digital, culture, media and sport committee for not doing enough to halt online abuse.

Tory Julian Knight, who chairs the committee, said at a hearing: “You ought to pay back the money that has been defrauded off the British public over many years.”

He told Richard Earley, of Facebook owner Meta: “It seems incredible to me and to the public, the idea that you are systematically, over a period of years, making money from our constituents’ misery over being defrauded.

“You’re still waiting for legislation to come forward before you appropriately react in order to exclude these scams from your platforms permanently.”

Mr Earley defended Meta’s advert checks, but Mr Knight said: “Frankly, we have had people commit suicide as a result of the scams and you have continued to take advertising throughout the entire time from organisations which are not FCA [Financial Conduct Authority] authorised. Only now are you pulling your finger out and bringing that very crucial change. You have just not done enough.”

Earlier, the bosses were warned legislation was imminent as they were grilled on the power of online “influencers”, reducing “grotesque” abuse and protecting children.

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The Daily Express Unmask the Online Trolls crusade is campaigning to stop anonymous users abusing others.

SNP MP John Nicolson said Amy Hart from reality TV show Love Island had said she suffered “distressing” abuse on Instagram, but the platform did not deem it actionable.

Tom Gault, of Instagram, said it had tightened its policies against attacks on public figures.

And Iain Bundred, of YouTube, said the platform removed nearly two million videos for child sexual safety reasons between July and September last year, adding: “I think we are doing a lot in this area.”

Meanwhile, a study has shown the power of celebrity influencers, even over what we eat. Chicago University found most food and drink content they posted on Instagram was so unhealthy, it would fail UK advertising standards.

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