Facebook is facing calls to deploy facial recognition technology to block scam adverts featuring celebrities, after consumer campaigner Martin Lewis launched legal proceedings against the social network over fake promotions claiming his endorsement, according to The Guardian.
Damian Collins, the chair of the parliamentary committee investigating online disinformation, told the Guardian he would ask the social network to consider new ways to block fake promotions when the company’s chief technology office appears to answer questions in parliament on Thursday.
“Martin Lewis’s case highlights yet another failure on the part of Facebook to protect its users,” said the Tory MP, who leads the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee. “The fact that the face of a man who has dedicated himself to aiding consumers to spend their money wisely could be used to defraud those very same people is something that Facebook should be ashamed of,” he said.
“Facebook is able to develop and roll out technology such as facial recognition to increase revenue,” he added. “These tools should be deployed, first and foremost to protect users.”
Lewis, who founded MoneySavingExpert.com, announced on Sunday that he is suing Facebook for defamation. He said one solution would be for Facebook to deploy the technology it already has in place to recognize the social network’s users in photos uploaded by their friends.
“They are the facial recognition experts, they should be able to recognise when they are being paid,” Lewis told the BBC, saying it is exasperating that he currently has to report each fake advert featuring his face on a case-by-case basis.
“I have put Facebook on notice. I don’t do adverts. Full stop. No company pays me to do an advert, I do not appear in adverts.”
Lewis said images of Virgin boss Richard Branson, plus Dragons’ Den stars Deborah Meaden and Peter Jones, are also often used to advertise dubious financial scams on Facebook.
Scammers use pictures of celebrities to grab attention, increase the number of clicks on an advert, and imply the public figure has endorsed the product or investment.
Many popular scam adverts have involved promotions for cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin.