Dutch celebrity John de Mol sued Facebook in April for his and other celebrities’ use in fake Bitcoin ads on the platform. In its ruling today, the Dutch Court asked Facebook’s platform to remove fake ads that contain images of prominent media figure John de Mol and other well-known celebrities.
Victims of crypto-fraud under the decision, the Dutch government said they suffered a loss of $1.8 million. The case in the Netherlands drew attention to its similarity to last year’s lawsuit by customer consultant Martin Lewis against Facebook in the United Kingdom over the use of images in fake ads.
With the case concluded, Facebook announced next month that it will run a complaint button against fake and fraudulent ads on the Dutch market. Add that this button has been used in the UK since July.
The court said Facebook was not proactive in removing Bitcoin ads using images of celebrities. This violates EU law on the general surveillance requirements of Internet platforms. Until, however, this approach was rejected by the tribunal under the recently published regulation on platfrom obligations by the European top court.
Another argument rejected by the court was produced by Facebook. Facebook’s lawyers argued that restricting fake ads is restricting freedom of expression, freedom of information. At this point, it is worth remembering twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey’s statements that advertising targeting is not freedom of expression.
Under the resulting court order, Facebook required the affected celebrity to provide data on accounts that misused his or her photo within seven days of the verdict and to impose a penalty of up to €100,000 per day. If it fails to comply, the company will pay a maximum fine of €1,000 per day.
Law professor Mireille Hildebrandt, who reviewed the case, argued that the penalty should include a GDPR violation and that the sentence should be increased to 1m euros.