CBS’s ‘Big Brother’ Billionaire Founder Sues Facebook; Fake Bitcoin Ads Scammed $1.9M From Users


  • Big Brother creator was fraudulently used in Facebook ads for a scam involving cryptocurrency.
  • The case is being reviewed in Amsterdam, where the judge believes an agreement could be reached.

Facebook has had many changing policies on the way that they handle cryptocurrency. However, their mishandling of a recent advertisement regarding Bitcoin has led them into some legal troubles. According to reports from Reuters, John de Mol has filed a lawsuit against Facebook, stating that his name and image were used on the social media network in an effort to push along the progress of fraud tied in with Bitcoin.

CBS's Big Brother creator’s lawyers spoke with a judge in the Amsterdam District Court, saying that the company did not stop the advertisements from being listed, and did not reply quickly to the complaints about them. The advertisements have since been removed, but they were encouraging consumers to send money to a cryptocurrency scheme that said that De Mol was already endorsing, backing, or otherwise involving himself in it.

A lawyer for Facebook, Jens van den Brink, commented that there is no way for the social media platform to keep a watch on every single advertisement circulating simultaneously. After Facebook was made aware of these scams, the advertisements were removed. Furthermore, Van den Brink commented that Facebook had already met with AFM, the Dutch financial markets regulator, in an effort to fight back against scammers.

The lawyers on De Mol’s side claimed that the linked ads had been the victims of a 1.7-million-euro theft, which is approximately $1.9 million. The lawyers added that, even though their case was in regard to De Mol, there were other Dutch celebrities tied into these advertisements. Lawyer Jacqueline Schapp added that it is Facebook’s responsibility to block advertisements like these, and to improve the vetting system. Presently, Facebook’s vetting system predominantly relies on reports from users. Schapp added:

“I don’t know what reality Facebook lives in, but that doesn’t work.”

In the lawsuit, De Mol is also demanding a promise from Facebook that the information regarding who created the advertisement would be provided, allowing him to turn these scammers into the police. The judge over this matter, Remmine Dudok van Heel, asked Van den Brink if the vetting process involved looking into the webpages that users are directed to from these advertisements, and Van den Brink said that it does. However, advertisers who alter the links that are connected with their ads can easily trick the software, which is a problem that the platform is working to rectify.

Rob Leathern, a manager for Facebook in California, spoke with reporters before the hearing, saying that they were working to prevent fraudulent ads from arising. He added, “The people who push these kinds of ads are persistent, they are well-funded, and they are constantly evolving their deceptive tactics to get around our systems.”

At this point, the judge has not established a date that a ruling will be implemented. However, Judge Dudok de Heel said, towards the end of the hearing on Wednesday, that there is a chance of the two sides establishing some middle ground in agreement.

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