Thailand has taken a bold step forward in its stance against fraudulent activities on social media platforms. The country is considering the possibility of a court-ordered shutdown of Facebook unless the platform takes strong actions to combat the rising number of alleged investment and crypto scam ads.
On August 21, 2023, the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society (MDES) revealed that these deceptive ads have already ensnared over 200,000 individuals. Promising fictitious high returns, these ads encompassed a variety of scams, ranging from crypto investment schemes to fraudulent government agencies, including impersonated versions of the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Notably, these scams employed insidious tactics, often exploiting the allure of celebrity endorsements and reputable financial figures. With promises of massive returns, some ads even lured victims with the possibility of up to 30% daily gains.
Despite previous communication and a letter sent to the Meta-owned platform, the MDES claims that Facebook has inadequately addressed the issue, primarily due to its failure to properly screen advertisers.
In response, the MDES is meticulously gathering evidence to substantiate its claims against the scam ads, which reportedly exceed 5,300 in number. If Facebook’s corrective actions remain insufficient, the ministry is prepared to request a court-ordered shutdown, which could be implemented within seven days of being granted.
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To avoid falling for such scams, the ministry has offered prudent advice. Consumers should exercise caution when encountering ads promising high returns or using famous individuals for endorsement. They should also be wary of investment offers that exert pressure or come with limited-time deals. If a business or platform lacks evidence of its credibility, individuals should approach it with caution as well.
Earlier, on June 8, 2023, the European regulator, the BEUC, released a report titled “Hype or Harm? The Great Social Media Crypto Con,” raising concerns about crypto advertising. The report highlights that consumers are not fully aware of crypto risks and identifies Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and TikTok as major platforms for such ads. It also mentions Facebook for allowing crypto ads to circumvent regulations against unlicensed financial promotions.
Meanwhile, in a report by Toadyq News on April 17, 2023, it was revealed that a 55-year-old woman in Hong Kong lost her entire savings of nearly HK $7 million (approximately $900,000) to an online cryptocurrency scam, as reported by local media.
Unfortunately, these types of fraud, particularly involving cryptocurrencies, have been occurring frequently in the region. In this ongoing battle against online scams, Thailand’s actions serve as a potent reminder of the critical importance of platform accountability and the protection of user interests in the digital realm.