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Op-Ed: Major lawsuit for Facebook includes billionaire, cryptocurrency, and money laundering

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Op-Ed: Major lawsuit for Facebook includes billionaire, cryptocurrency, and money laundering


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This may well be one of the most interesting lawsuits ever faced by Facebook. Australian billionaire Andrew Forrest has filed a major complaint alleging that Facebook failed to take down his image on multiple advertisements promoting cryptocurrency investments.

This case includes just about everything notoriously affecting Facebook, in so many ways, including criminal allegations against Facebook:

  • Unauthorized use of a personal image for promotional purposes.
  • Possible breach of money laundering laws in relation to cryptocurrency promotions.
  • These promotions are believed to be scams. Forrest claims that Facebook failed to “… prevent its systems to be used to commit crime”.

Forrest describes his action as a “world first” to protect the public from scammers. He’s probably right. This case contains a quite literal wealth of fundamental elements regarding social media advertising and scams.

Cryptocurrency scams aren’t exactly unknown online. The massive hype regarding Bitcoin has done a lot of damage worldwide, particularly to small investors.

Facebook, of course, is a natural venue for scams. Not so long ago Facebook was accused of allowing fake ads in its Marketplace section, yet another folksy unregulated tradition in online advertising.

(This is what happens when people become so infatuated with deregulation. Endless legal grey areas are created for no reason at all. Laws are left well behind legal realities. Add to this the myth that anything online is somehow immune to legal action, which nothing ever has been or will be, and this is the environment you get.)

The risk to the public is undeniable. The risk could be all the more serious in the social media environment, where user information could be accessed.

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Forrest also has a very legitimate bone to pick with Facebook regarding the use of his image. He is a very high-profile businessman in Australia with an excellent reputation. In any kind of investment environment, he has major credentials. His obvious anger has plenty of basis in fact.

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This use of his image is also a classic major privacy issue for a lot of people. Why is anyone’s image used without permission and payment in any commercial content? Your personal image is not somebody else’s property. Your image could be a personal security risk in some environments like political advertising or in relation to controversial issues.

Facebook, (which now apparently responds to the name Meta), was unable to comment on this lawsuit. The company said it was committed to protecting users and managing such ads, which violate their policies.

A major call for the courts

This court case has global ramifications. All the issues raised by Mr. Forrest are perfectly valid grounds for a lawsuit. They will also have direct applications in any court on Earth regarding a very wide range of illegal practices in online advertising. This case will effectively set a precedent in most English-speaking countries by virtue of their very similar laws.

From Facebook’s perspective, there is an interesting perspective. This court case, if successful, could be a very strong legal basis for Facebook to crack down on this type of advertising.

Frankly, it would probably be better for Facebook to let this case go through and simply not contest it. With an actual finding in place, the legal argument for Facebook in future cases would be irrefutable.

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Elon Musk’s Team Asks for More Data to Complete Assessment of Twitter Bots

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Elon Musk's Team Asks for More Data to Complete Assessment of Twitter Bots

Okay, let’s just check in on the latest with the Twitter/Elon Musk takeover saga, and where things are placed to close out the week.

According to the latest reports, Musk’s team recently asked Twitter for more tweet info, in order to help it make an accurate assessment of bot activity in the app. This comes after Musk questioned Twitter’s claim that bots and fake accounts make up only 5% of its active user base, and said that his Twitter takeover deal could not go ahead unless Twitter could produce more evidence to support this figure.

Which Twitter did, by providing Musk with access to its ‘full firehose’ of tweets over a given period, which it shared with Musk’s team back on June 8th. Musk’s group has now had that data for a couple of weeks, but this week, it said that this info is not enough to go on, and that it needs even more insight from Twitter to make its judgment.

And after initially resisting calls for more data access, Twitter has now reportedly relented and handed over more tweet data access to Musk’s team.

Which may or may not be a concern, depending on how you see it.

In its initial data dump, Twitter reportedly gave Musk’s team info on:

  • Total user tweets (within a given time period)
  • Data on which devices were used

As noted, Musk’s team says that this has not provided it with the insight that it needs to conduct an accurate analysis of potential bot activity, so Twitter has now provided Musk with more ‘real-time API data’.

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It’s not clear whether that means that Twitter has provided everything that its API systems can provide, but that could mean that Musk’s team can now access:

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  • Real-time info on tweet text and visual elements/attachments
  • Data on retweets, replies, and quote Tweets for each
  • Data on tweet author, mentioned users, tagged locations, hashtag and cashtag symbols, etc
  • Date, time, location, device info

That should satisfy any analytical needs to uncover potential bot trends, and get a better handle on Twitter’s bot problem, though it also means that Musk has all your tweet info – which, again, it’s worth noting, Twitter up till now had been hesitant to provide.

I’m sure it’s fine. Musk’s team is beholden to disclosure laws around such, so it’s not like they can do anything much with that info anyway, in a legal sense. But the idea that the sometimes erratic Elon Musk now has all the tweets could be a little concerning for some.

But Twitter likely had to provide what it can, and if Musk is going to become CEO of the app soon anyway, he’s going to have access to all of that data either way.

But still, given Musk and Co’s past history of undermining and attacking critics, sacking trouble maker employees and digging up potential dirt on rivals, it sits a little uneasy.

Should be fine. No problems – no need to go deleting all your DMs (which are likely not included in the data that Twitter has provided at this stage).

According to reports, Musk’s team says that it now has the info it needs to make its assessment of bot activity, which should see the deal move forward (or not) sometime soon.

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Of course, no one knows what exactly is going to happen next, and whether Musk’s team will look to renegotiate, or even back out of the deal entirely as a result of its bot analysis. But it does seem like, one way or another, Musk will be forced to go ahead with the $44 billion transaction, with Twitter’s past bot reporting methodology already accepted by the SEC, giving it legal grounding to argue that it’s acted in good faith, regardless of what Musk’s team finds.

The next steps then, according to Musk, would be securing debt financing and gaining Twitter shareholder approval, clearing the last hurdles for Musk to change the app’s name to ‘Telsla Social’, and add a million references to ‘420’ into the platforms various terms and conditions.

Because of the memes, because weed jokes are still funny to the richest man in the world – because he vacillates between inspired genius and a massive nerd who now gets to play out some fantasy of being cool.

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Or something. Who knows what goes on in Elon Musk’s head – which is also why most are hesitant to bet against him, as nobody knows if and how he might be able to fix Twitter, and whether this is a great investment or a massive disaster.

It seems like we may soon find out. Maybe. Who knows. Either way, the memes should be great.



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