Business groups call for action on fraudulent social media ads

Some fake adverts receive 250,000 views before they are identified as selling counterfeit goods, says new report. Photo: Getty
Some fake adverts receive 250,000 views before they are identified as selling counterfeit goods, says new report. Photo: Getty

Business groups are calling on social media platforms to tackle fake adverts selling counterfeit goods.

Some 70 major brands have been targeted by false ads on Facebook (FB), Instagram, YouTube and Google (GOOG) according to a report by the Transnational Alliance to Combat Illicit Trade (TRACIT) and the American Apparel and Footwear Association (AAFA).

The fake adverts can receive up to 250,000 views before they are detected says the report.

 “It’s alarming that people are exposed to fraudulent advertisements for counterfeits while they’re thumbing through their social media accounts,” said TRACIT director general Jeffrey Hardy.

“The ads are so professional that they easily deceive consumers into thinking they’re getting a great deal. Instead, they’re being diverted to a rogue website that was built specifically to sell and distribute counterfeits.”

The report claims social networking platforms have inherent systemic weaknesses that are exploited by criminals to sell counterfeit or illegal products with little risk of being caught.

 “Consumers risk having their payment details stolen, not receiving goods, or buying poor quality or even dangerous products,” said Hardy.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Luxury chocolate and wine sales surge during lockdown

“Counterfeiters are notoriously linked to serious organized crime, spending their profits on illicit drugs, money laundering and corruption, depriving governments, businesses and societies of hundreds of billions of dollars in taxes, sales and jobs,” he continued.

TRACIT and AAFA advocate for governments and social platforms to work with brands and law enforcement to do more to protect consumers.

The report includes recommendations for websites and social media platforms to gather and verify information on who is using their advertising services. It also suggests the establishment of an e-business license for advertisers.

“Advertising has long been regulated by governments to ensure that messages are truthful and do not mislead reasonable consumers and I think it’s the responsibility of today’s legislators to make sure these standards apply to our lives online,” said Hardy.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Most UK employers expect to hire more staff soon

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