Social Media scams getting out of hand, Fahmi Fadzil calls on MCMC to take faster, tougher action

Social Media scams getting out of hand, Fahmi Fadzil calls on MCMC to take faster, tougher action

In response to our recent post about Meta allowing scam ads on its platform, Communications and Digital Minister Fahmi Fadzil is calling on the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) to act faster and more strictly. Recently, there have been more reports of fake Facebook pages displaying scam ads offering free books related to investing and financial management. These scam pages impersonate popular brands and titles such as Kinokuniya, Popular, MPH and Sin Chew Daily, and they direct users to a WhatsApp chat to continue the conversation.

Tackling online scams is one of Fahmi’s top priorities after taking the top job at the Ministry of Communications and Digital. During a recent town hall, he recounted that his own mother was a fraud victim and lost RM75,000 from her Tabung Haji account.

He called on fraud victims to make a report to the National Scam Response Center hotline at 997. He said the report must be made within 24 hours so that Bank Negara Malaysia can take the necessary steps to stem the outflow of funds to stop Fahmi also said scams are a potential security risk as the funds can be channeled into the black economy which can be used to buy drugs or weapons.

Facebook, which is one of Malaysia’s most popular social media platforms, is notorious for allowing scam ads on its platform without basic checks. Despite violating its own advertising policies and boasting AI moderation capabilities, scam ads impersonating popular brands and public figures were approved almost immediately and almost no action was taken when the ads were reported. As a result, these ads from which Meta profits have caused financial losses to scam victims.

It is high time for the Malaysian government to hold Meta accountable for aiding and abetting scam activities on its platform. All major social media platforms should be required to have a local ad review/moderation team to approve ads targeting Malaysians. Additionally, all social media platforms must be given a fixed turnaround time to act against inappropriate content and scams reported by users. With social media platforms such as Facebook taking a lion’s share of digital advertising revenue in Malaysia, they should make the necessary investments to ensure their ads are safe and comply with local regulations.

Most of these scam ads can be quickly weeded out if checked by a Malaysian team that understands the local context. Meta Malaysia was informed about the specific scams but they failed to act in time. The fact remains that the longer the scam ads run, the more revenue Meta gets and the more Malaysians will fall victim. It’s clear that Meta prioritizes profits over user safety.

Early this year, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) sued Meta for allowing scam ads on its platform. Meta is alleged to have engaged in false, misleading or deceptive conduct by publishing scam advertisements featuring prominent Australian public figures. The ACCC said their actions contravened the Australian Consumer Law (ACL) or the Australian Securities and Investments Commission Act (ASIC Act). It added that Meta aided and abetted or was knowingly concerned with false or misleading conduct and representations by the advertisers.

ACCC chairman Rod Sims said Meta was responsible for ads it published on its platform and should have done more to detect and then remove false or misleading ads on Facebook, to prevent consumers falling victim to ruthless scammers become

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