Citizens Advice to get £3m of funding from Facebook

The money, which will help to set up a scam advertising prevention body, is the result of an out-of-court settlement between Facebook and the journalist Martin Lewis

Citizens Advice will receive £3m worth of funding from Facebook because of a legal agreement between the social media giant and the consumer finance journalist Martin Lewis.

The funding, which will consist of £2.5m in cash and £500,000 in Facebook advert credit coupons issued over the next three years, will help to set up Citizens Advice Scams Action.

The funding was announced after Lewis, who founded the Money Saving Expert website, agreed to drop a lawsuit against Facebook relating to scam advertising on the social media platform that used Lewis’s image or name.

CASA will focus on scam-prevention work and supporting victims.

Part of the project’s remit will be to raise public awareness of digital scam advertising and develop online tools to help people affected by online scams.

Facebook has also announced that it will create a new scam advertising reporting tool unique to the UK and a dedicated internal operations team, which will allow Facebook users to quickly and easily report suspected scam advertising.

A spokeswoman for Citizens Advice said CASA, which is expected to be launched in May, would complement other work the charity did in combating scam advertising.

Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, said: "We help thousands of people each year who have fallen victim to online scams. We know scams are getting more sophisticated and this isn’t a problem that’s going away.

"People rely on us to provide free and independent advice. The agreement between Martin Lewis and Facebook will mean we can reach more people who are targeted online right across the UK."

Guy said that the charity would develop its own technology to make it easier for people to get help around scam advertising.

Steve Hatch, regional director for northern Europe at Facebook, said: "We’re grateful to Martin Lewis for bringing attention to this important issue and for his guidance over the past eight months.

"We look forward to working with Citizens Advice, Martin Lewis and his team, and with others in the industry to continue to explore solutions to this ever-evolving challenge."

Lewis said other social media and advertising platforms, such as Google, should follow Facebook’s lead in tackling scam advertising on their platforms.

"It shouldn’t have taken the threat of legal action to get here," he said. "Yet once we started talking Facebook quickly realised the scale of the problem and its impact on real people, and agreed to commit to making a difference both on its own platform and across the wider sector.

"The amount being donated to set up the Citizens Advice Scams Action project is far above anything I could have won had I succeeded in a court. That shows Facebook’s determination to change things."

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