Fraudulent Investment Ads: Tech Giants Must Not Shrug off Grave Harm to Users

False advertisements and potentially defamatory word-of-mouth information are spreading on the internet. To prevent the damage from spreading further, tech giants should take responsible measures.

The problem of false ads on social media that use the names and images of prominent figures, including economic analysts and entrepreneurs, without their consent to solicit investments is becoming increasingly serious. A number of such ads have been confirmed on Facebook and Instagram, which are operated by U.S. social media giant Meta Platforms Inc.

According to the National Police Agency, the number of investment fraud cases on social media involving false ads totaled 2,271 in the past year, with victims losing about ¥27.8 billion.

In April, a 70-year-old female corporate executive who saw a false investment advertisement was found to have been defrauded of about ¥700 million by persons who used the names and images of prominent figures, including an economic analyst. Some people have lost their retirement assets through similar tactics.

This is a malicious crime that takes advantage of the credibility of celebrities. The police must do their utmost to expose this crime.

Stopping the distribution of false ads is essential to prevent such harm. However, when celebrities whose names and images were used in the scam asked Meta to remove them, they said that they were told that there were too many ads and the company could not deal with them all.

It must be said that this is an extremely dishonest response. It is quite natural for a company to take necessary action, even at the expense of funds and personnel, when there is a claim of damage.

When distributing ads, Meta and other companies say they screen the contents with human eyes and automatic detection technology that uses artificial intelligence. Ads that have been reported to have caused damage also should be reviewed to determine their authenticity and should be deleted if found to be inappropriate.