Gina Rinehart takes on FB founder Zuckerberg in heated letter

Australia's richest woman has written to Mark Zuckerberg pleading for more action on Facebook scams.

Australia's richest woman has written to Mark Zuckerberg pleading for more action on Facebook scams. Photos: Getty

Australian mining magnate Gina Rinehart has confronted Facebook owner Mark Zuckerberg in a clash of the billionaires over scams on the social media platform.

Rinehart, who is Australia’s richest person, has written to the Meta chief executive to urge him to do more to deal with the rampant scams.

“I write to you on behalf of our private companies and myself, though we are far from the only Australians concerned with the increasing prevalence of scams and intentionally deceptive content on your platforms,” Rinehart reportedly says in her letter, which was obtained by the Nine Network.

“Across Meta, numerous scammers have falsely used the names of prominent Australians such as Harry Triguboff, Dick Smith and me, in an effort to fraudulently solicit money from vulnerable people.”

“These scams have also deceptively involved the names of high-profile media personalities from Channel Seven, Sky, Channel Nine, and others, wrongly using them in scams in efforts to scam money from innocent people.”

Rinehart said she had seen hundreds of scams on Facebook in recent weeks.

“I have had more than 750 scams on Facebook, as opposed to only one on Twitter in the same time period. Hence I’d appreciate more efforts taken in attempting to address these issues,” she wrote.

Fraudsters have used Facebook to run scam ads for years, with images of public figures such as TV presenter David Koch and mining boss Andrew Forrest used to lure users into fake cryptocurrency investment deals.

Last year, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission launched legal action, accusing Meta (Facebook’s parent) of aiding and profiting from the “disgraceful” scams.

“The technology of Meta enabled these ads to be targeted to users most likely to engage with the ads,” ACCC chairman Rod Sims said at the time.

“Meta should have done more to detect and then remove false or misleading ads on Facebook, to prevent consumers from falling victim to ruthless scammers.”

The scam ads work by posting images of prominent figures, often next to fake quotes promoting bitcoin. Users who click on the links are taken to websites made to look like legitimate investment programs endorsed by those celebrities – but they’re actually scams designed to steal money.

Rinehart provided numerous examples of the scams in her letter to Zuckerberg. They include fake voice videos using Nine Network personalities in fake interviews, as well as investment scams and other deceptive practices.

“Despite our staff’s concerted efforts to report such content, there remains an alarming persistence of scams, and new ones increasingly emerge,” she writes.

“As mentioned above, our staff cannot keep up.

“Meta needs to do more.”

scams australia

Scams reported by Australians, measured by how they are delivered. Source: Scamwatch

Her letter came a week ahead of Scam Awareness Week. Run by Scamwatch, it begins on November 27 – and the theme for 2023 is  “impersonation scams”.

“Anecdotally, approximately 72 per cent of all scams reported to Scamwatch include some form of impersonation of a legitimate entity,” the Scamwatch website says.

“Scammers can impersonate any organisation or brand and impersonation scams can be received through a variety of channels, so the theme has broad relevance and application.”

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