Starling Bank boycotts Facebook over fraudulent ads

Starling Bank boycotts Facebook over fraudulent ads

Starling Bank said it will no longer pay for advertising on Facebook or Instagram in an effort to protect its customers from scammers.

In a blog post, Starling CEO Anne Bowden justified the boycott by highlighting the lack of action, Meta, the mother of Facebook, against fraudulent ads compared to her fellow Internet giant Google.

Since August, financial services advertisers have had to prove to Google that they are authorized by the Financial Conduct Authority or qualify for one of Google’s limited exemptions.

In December, Facebook’s parent company Meta, Microsoft and Twitter said they would follow in Google’s footsteps after calls from MPs for these platforms for more thorough checks.

Meta has yet to make any changes on its own, but FTAdviser understands that the company expects to launch something similar to Google later this year.

“We are still waiting to know when and how this initiative will happen,” Boden said. “In the meantime, we have stopped all paid ads on Facebook and Instagram.”

She added: “We want to protect our customers and the integrity of our brand. We can no longer pay to advertise on a platform along with scammers who are after the savings of our customers and customers of other banks.”

Meta responded by saying that it was dedicating significant resources to tackling the issue of fraud both on and off its platforms.

In recent years, Meta has made some moves to tackle online scams despite criticism to the contrary.

Now promoting or facilitating financial scams, including those that promise high rates of return, is against the social media giant’s policies. Its advertising policies also prohibit ads that promise unrealistic results or guarantee a financial return.

In 2020, the company also launched a fraudulent ad alert system in the UK with the Advertising Standards Authority. Today, it includes about 40,000 people on its global safety and security team.

In the third quarter of last year, this team disabled more than 1.3 billion fake Facebook accounts.

But Boden argued that Mark Zuckerberg’s decision to create “Metaverse” – essentially 3D spaces where Facebook users can socialize – means that Meta’s focus on tackling deceptive ads may lose steam.

“When I read that Facebook’s next big project, the Metaverse, is expected to be a major driver of growth for decentralized finance and finance in the 1920s and beyond, I know this is potentially both wrong and right,” she said.

“While Facebook may hold all kinds of promise for the future, I really hope its focus on the Metaverse will not become a distraction from doing what’s right today, here and now in the UK in 2022.”

Investment scams doubled £107.7m in losses to consumers in the first half of 2021, doubling from £55.2m over the same period in 2020.

In September, UK Finance blamed social media ads for the 95 per cent increase, citing their claims of high returns on investments as the reason.

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