Australian Regulator Sues Meta Over ‘Scam’ Crypto Ads

Facebook parent Meta knowingly published crypto ads designed to scam users by leveraging well-known public figures, the ACCC said


Source: Shutterstock


key takeaways

  • Facebook-parent Meta is being sued by Australia’s top competition regulator over claims the platform published “scam” crypto ads
  • The ACCC is also alleging that Meta was aware of the ongoing activity but it had failed to take “sufficient steps” to stop it

Australia’s top consumer watchdog has begun legal proceedings against Meta, Facebook’s parent company, over allegations it engaged in “false, misleading or deceptive conduct” by publishing “scam” crypto ads on its platform.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said Thursday Meta’s conduct — permitting false ads of “prominent Australian public figures” promoting crypto — was in breach of Australian consumer law.

“It is alleged that Meta was aware that the celebrity endorsement cryptocurrency scam ads were being displayed on Facebook but did not take sufficient steps to address the issue,” the regulator said.

Facebook’s checkered history with crypto-related ads began in 2018 when the platform banned the promotion of most material associated with crypto and blockchain businesses. The platform later reversed its decision to only include initial coin offerings.

Under the platform’s terms, written permission is required for companies to promote trading platforms, software and related services and products that enable monetization, reselling, swapping or staking of crypto.

In light of the ad limitations, the regulator alleges that Meta “aided and abetted” or was “knowingly concerned” of false or misleading conduct and representations by the advertisers.

The watchdog said the ads were likely to “mislead” Facebook users into believing the schemes in the ads were connected with well-known individuals including businessman Dick Smith and TV presenter David Koch.

Advertisements on the platform contained links that forwarded users to false media articles which included quotes associated with well-known Australian public figures promoting certain crypto scams, the regulator said.

In February, Australian billionaire Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest brought criminal proceedings against Meta’s platform, alleging it failed to take preventative measures against false crypto ads that used his image.

The advertisements were, in fact, scams, and the featured celebrities had never approved or endorsed them, the regulator said.

“The essence of our case is that Meta is responsible for these ads that it publishes on its platform,” ACCC Chair Rod Sims said.

“It is a key part of Meta’s business to enable advertisers to target users who are most likely to click on the link in an ad to visit the ad’s landing page, using Facebook algorithms.

Sims added that those visits to landing pages from ads generated “substantial revenue” for Facebook.

Start your day with top crypto insights from David Canellis and Katherine Ross. Subscribe to the Empire newsletter.


Upcoming Events

Salt Lake City, UT

WED - FRI, OCTOBER 9 - 11, 2024

Pack your bags, anon — we’re heading west! Join us in the beautiful Salt Lake City for the third installment of Permissionless. Come for the alpha, stay for the fresh air. Permissionless III promises unforgettable panels, killer networking opportunities, and mountains […]

recent research



Data publishing costs have historically been a bottleneck for rollups, and as more rollups launch, interoperability will continue to be a major challenge. Avail presents a potential solution to rollup fragmentation through its three products: Avail DA, Nexus, and Fusion, which together aim to unify the web3 experience.


The Bitcoin halving is a spectacle that only comes round once every four years


The SEC alleges that Justin Sun spent nearly 400 days in the US from 2017 to 2019


Short-term “sell the news” reactions could follow new BTC price peaks months from now, industry watchers say — but only if history repeats itself


While crypto fundraising remains well off its bull market highs, Q1 data shows capital is returning to the space


Billed as a better BRC-20 fungible token standard, Bitcoin Runes launches tomorrow


Bitcoin miners need to explore unconventional energy avenues or be buried by the financial realities created by this halving