Facebook and Google both have policies against advertisers who try to scam users. However, a watchdog report suggests that these policies need an upgrade.
Britain-based consumer watchdog Which? released an independent report on the tech companies’ efforts to stop scammers. In the report, they reveal that Google had failed to remove 34% of the scam advertisements reported by users. Comparably, Facebook had failed to remove 26% of them.
Both companies flat-out ban scam advertisements, but scammers often use sneaky techniques to overpass the sites’ rules. According to Which?, the sites need to crack down on scammers.
“There is no doubt that tech giants, regulators and the government need to go to greater lengths to prevent scams from flourishing,” said Adam French, consumer rights expert at Which? “Online platforms must be given a legal responsibility to identify, remove and prevent fake and fraudulent content on their sites… and the government needs to act now.”
Another finding demonstrated problem with the process of reporting scam ads.
Following a survey, 15% of web users admitted that they had fallen victim to a scam advertisement and reported it. Among those users, 27% had been scammed on Facebook and 19% had been scammed on Google. Nearly half of the scam victims did not report their incident to these companies.
Why not report? On Facebook, the most common reason for not reporting was that the user doubted that anything would actually happen. On Google, meanwhile, the most common reason was that the user did not know how to report as scammer. This, according to Which?, indicates that Google needs to simplify its reporting procedure.
“Online platforms need to take a far more proactive approach to prevent fraudulent content from reaching potential victims in the first place,” Which? said in the report.
According to BBC, a rep from Facebook said that “fraudulent activity is not allowed on Facebook and we have taken action on a number of pages reported to us by Which.”
Google said that it has removed more than 3.1 billion ads for violating their ad policies, saying: “We have strict policies that govern the kinds of ads that we allow to run on our platform.”