Facebook rolled out a special tool exclusive to the U.K. that enables people to report ads that they believe to be scams or misleading.
The social network developed the tool as part of its settlement of a defamation lawsuit filed in the U.K. last April by Martin Lewis, founder and chair of MoneySavingExpert.com and consumer advice personality.
Facebook users in the U.K. who encounter an ad that they believe to be a scam or misleading can click the three dots that appear in the top-right-hand corner of every ad on the social network, clicking Report ad, clicking Misleading or scam ad and, finally, clicking Send a detailed scam report.
The social network has a dedicated internal operations team in place to handle reports submitted via the tool, and that team will take down ads that are in violation, as well as investigate trends and suggest improvements to the process.
A Facebook spokesperson said in an email, “While the tool is currently available on Facebook in the U.K., we’re certainly not ruling out the possibility of taking something like this to other markets if it works well.”
In his lawsuit, Lewis cited the volume of scam ads on Facebook that misappropriated his image to dupe people.
The new tool was only part of the settlement: Facebook also donated £3 million (approximately $3.72 million) to form the Citizens Advice Scams Action service, which provides one-to-one support to people in the U.K. who believe they are being scammed online.
CASA will also work to raise awareness of and prevent online scams.
Facebook vice president for northern Europe Steve Hatch said in a statement, “Scam ads are an industrywide problem caused by criminals and have no place on Facebook. Through our work with Martin Lewis, we’re taking a market-leading position, and our new reporting tool and dedicated team are important steps to stop the misuse of our platform.”
He continued, “Prevention is also key. Our £3 million donation to Citizens Advice will not only help those who have been impacted by scammers, but raise awareness of how to avoid scams, too. At a global level, we’ve tripled the size of our safety and security team to 30,000 people and continue to invest heavily in removing bad content from our platform.”
And Lewis wrote in a blog post detailing the settlement, “The aim is to tap the power of what I’m dubbing ‘social policing’ to fight these scams. Millions of people know a scam when they see it, and millions of others don’t. So now, I’d ask all who recognize them to use the new Facebook reporting tool to help protect those who don’t—which includes many who are vulnerable. Facebook’s new dedicated team will then hopefully respond quickly to ditch the scammers.”
He added, “Sadly, we have to accept that zero tolerance won’t mean zero occurrence. Yet my hope is that it’ll squash the numbers of scam ads and the time those that do get through are live. This is only happening in the U.K., on the back of the lawsuit, yet I suspect Facebook will see its success and soon roll it out to the rest of the world. The irony is, with these new tools, Facebook should pull ahead of the pack. Many big tech players don’t make it anywhere near as easy for consumers to report scam ads, and they must step up.”