Which?: Tech Giants’ Anti-scam Policies’ Not Fit for Purpose”

Cat Pic

Catherine Tilke

Money Savings Advice Which? Tech Giants Anti-scam Policies Not Fit for Purpose

Consumer rights group Which? has accused tech giants Google and Facebook of failing to protect users from online scams.

In a survey of scam victims, Which? Found that a third of scam victims who reported ads that duped them to Google said the platform failed to remove the adverts.

Meanwhile, a quarter of those who reported the ads which scammed them to Facebook said the social media site did not remove them.

The findings prompted Which? to brand the platform's reactive anti-fraud policies as 'not fit for purpose' and called for the companies to be given legal duties to prevent users from being defrauded.

Our latest research has exposed significant flaws with the reactive approach taken by tech giants including Google and Facebook in response to the reporting of fraudulent content – leaving victims worryingly exposed to scams," 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. The case for including scams in the Online Safety Bill is overwhelming, and the government needs to act now.

The Online Safety Bill is set to come into force later this year and will give communications regulator Ofcom the power to fine social media sites up to 10% of their annual turnover for failing to remove harmful or illegal content such as violent content or sexual exploitation.

The bill does not specifically cover material such as fraudulent adverts or scam websites.

Which? 's research found that nearly 1 in 10 social media users in the UK had been scammed into buying a sham product online- totalling some 3.8 million people.

Despite this, only two in five users bother to report fraud to online platforms. The most common reason for Facebook users not reporting fraudulent adverts was thinking the platform wouldn't do anything about it.

On Google, the leading reason for users not to report fake ads was that they didn't know how to lodge a complaint.

In response to Which?, a Google spokesperson pointed out that the platform blocked more than 3.1 billion ads over the course of 2020. This number includes adverts that Google identified as in breach of their policies and those that users flagged up.

As part of the various ways we are tackling bad ads, we also encourage people to flag bad actors, they're seeing via our support tool where you can report bad ads directly. It can easily be found on Search when looking for "How to report bad ads on Google" and filling out the necessary information", said a spokesperson for the tech giant.

Last year Google stepped up its identification process for businesses advertising through the site, which reportedly resulted in an additional 968 million fake advertisers being filtered out of the service.

Despite these changes, users reported to Which? Seeing scam ads re-appear after being taken down, as fraudsters slipped through the net by changing their business name.

Which? Called on social media users to sign up to its scam alert service, 'to help consumers familiarise themselves with the latest tactics used by fraudsters, but urged regulators to step in and do more to prevent scammers preying on social media users.

In 2020, Google's ad revenue amounted to £105.63 billion (USD 146.92 billion), while almost 98% of Facebook's global revenue is thought to be generated by advertising, at £61.83 billion (USD 86 billion).  

Money Savings Advice Author Catherine Tilke

Catherine Tilke

Catherine is our specialist financial news journalist. With over 7 years of experience and a raft of contacts in the financial world, she prides herself on delivering the most relevant and up-to-date financial news for our readers.

How does Money Savings Advice work

Money Savings Advice is an independent editorial company providing detailed information about numerous financial niches with the aim of helping consumers make informed financial decisions. We aim to provide hints, tips and techniques to help you make your money work for you. However, we are not perfect, and we accept no liability if anything we write about goes wrong.

  • The information detailed on Money Savings Advice does not constitute financial advice. It is always advised to do your own research to make sure the product/solution we write about fits your circumstances.
  • The aim of Money Savings Advice is to match you with a financial advisor, claims management company or another financial service company that can help you with your financial needs.
  • Money Savings Advice aim to provide the most up to date and accurate information about all financial subjects, and as such we sometimes link to other websites, but we (Money Savings Advice) can’t be responsible for their content.
  • Money Savings Advice is independent and not linked to any financial company.

 

Who are Money Savings Advice

Money Savings Advice is a trading name of RMM Digital Publishing Ltd. Registered trading address, First Floor, 85 Great Portland Street, London, W1W 7LT. Trading in England and Wales, company number 11550143 with data protection number ZA747669.

Money Savings Advice is a trading style of Consumer Credit Justice Ltd.

Consumer Credit Justice Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, Reference 834486. We are regulated by the FCA in respect to claims management activities.

You do not need to use the services of Consumer Credit Justice, or any other claims management company, to make a claim. You are free to choose an independent solicitor of your choice.

Back to top