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Meta Settles with Qatari Billionaire in Fraudulent Crypto Advertising Case

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According to a Financial Times report, Meta (formerly known as Facebook) publicly apologized to Qatari billionaire Wissam al Mana and promised to provide additional safeguards after his image was exploited in fraudulent crypto ads on the platform.

The prominent businessman, also known as the ex-husband of pop star Janet Jackson, has taken legal action against Meta in Dublin, Ireland over the past three years, alleging significant reputational damage, distress and embarrassment caused by the fraudulent advertisements.

Meta supports publishing false and defamatory crypto ads

During a court hearing in Dublin on Friday, Meta admitted that “false, misleading and defamatory advertisements” featuring Wissam al Mana’s image were published on Facebook without his knowledge or consent. The social media giant expressed remorse for the damage caused and issued a sincere and unreserved apology to Mr. Al Mana.

According to the report, prominent figures, including politicians, have also initiated legal proceedings in Ireland against social media companies, highlighting the use of their names and images to promote cryptocurrency fraud.

Notably, Meta settled a libel lawsuit brought by Martin Lewis in England, making a substantial donation to an anti-fraud charity and introducing new tools for users to report fake ads.

While Meta reviews and approves ads before they appear on Facebook, industry experts say scammers can use fake identities to bypass these controls. Those responsible for the fraudulent advertisements in which Wissam al Mana appears have not responded nor were they involved in the case, which calls into question their legitimacy.

Meta promises to take strong action against misleading ads

In response to the litigation, Meta committed to implementing “robust measures” to combat these types of misleading ads in the future. The terms of the settlement reached between the parties remained confidential and Irish law firm Ronan Daly Jermyn represented Wissam al Mana in the Dublin proceedings.

Wissam al Mana, a well-known businessman from the Gulf region, plays an important role in managing his family group in Qatar and holds exclusive distribution rights for multiple luxury brands, including Harvey Nichols, Alexander McQueen and Hermès.

Following proceedings against Meta in Dublin in February 2020, Wissam al Mana’s case was resolved in court on Friday. In particular, the Financial Times highlights that Irish defamation laws are considered more favorable than those in the United States.

The allegations presented by Wissam al Mana’s legal team maintain that although Facebook initially removed the initial set of fraudulent ads, the platform failed to implement effective measures to prevent their recurrence. Additional false ads later surfaced in 2019, prompting Meta to remove them once again.

As a result of this case, Meta is faced with the need to improve its protocols and preventative measures to effectively combat fraudulent advertisements and protect the integrity of its platform.

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