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Martin Lewis drops Facebook legal action over scam adverts

Money Saving Expert's Martin Lewis during a joint press conference with Facebook at the Facebook headquarters in London Credit: PA

Martin Lewis has dropped a campaign lawsuit against Facebook after the social network agreed to donate £3 million to Citizens Advice and set up a new scam advert prevention project.

The consumer champion previously announced his intention to sue Facebook for defamation in a personal capacity in a groundbreaking lawsuit, following a raft of scam ads featuring his picture.

The two have now announced a new initiative that includes a specialist scam adverts reporting tool on the social network and the donation to the new Citizens Advice Scams Action (CASA), which will launch in May and be used to support the victims of scam advertising and offer education on spotting them.

VP of Facebook in Northern Europe Steve Hatch (left) and Money Saving Expert's Martin Lewis during a joint press conference in London. Credit: PA Wire

Mr Lewis, founder of MoneySavingExpert.com, said: "I didn’t want to take out a lawsuit. That was not my aim.

"My aim was to try and reduce the number of hideous scam adverts in UK advertising that have hurt real people."

He also called on other advertising platforms to follow Facebook’s example, saying Google and others had to "stand up and take responsibility" for scam adverts on their platforms.

He said the scam advertising may not "be as sexy" as problems around "fake news and Russian bots" but said it affects real people’s lives, calling it a "national epidemic".

He added that he would not rule out another lawsuit "if things did not improve".

Facebook agreed to donate £3 million to Citizens Advice and set up a new scam advert prevention project. Credit: PA Wire

Facebook has agreed to donate £2.5 million in cash over the next two years and £500,000 in Facebook advert credits coupons over the next three years.

The social media platform said its new dedicated tool for the UK will be used to allow ads to be more quickly reported.

The social network’s Northern Europe regional director Steve Hatch said: "We’re grateful to Martin Lewis for bringing attention to this important issue and for his guidance over the last eight months.

"Our donation to Citizens Advice and our launch of a new UK scam ad reporting tool and dedicated operations team for this reporting channel is part of a wider commitment to tackling scams and to ensuring people are given more transparency and controls over the ads they see on Facebook."