Social media companies must take legal responsibility for advertisers.
Social media companies must take legal responsibility for advertisers.
The picture is a screenshot of the advertising scam that caught me out.
I here relate my recent experience and concerns regarding how I was swindled by advertising on FaceBook, and again swindled by the UK legal system. I request that the matter is forwarded to parliament as a subject of debate and review, with the objective of installing law(s) that will protect the public from such abuse.
At 10:00 am. 13th December 2021, I attended Uxbridge County Court and a chap identifying as Judge Ahmed striped me of all consumer rights. It might be that you're not overly concerned about that; however in that very same moment he denied you the same rights and created a permission for on-line companies to savage you, and every single citizen of the UK. He has created a vortex in the law that any on-line company can use to swindle Everyday Joe without consequence. Now perhaps it is time to get concerned. Not least because this person Ahmed has given a legal blessing to leaving the door ajar to the advantage of both spontaneous and organized crime preying on all of us. Let me tell you how this came about.
Roughly 18 months ago my FaceBook feed presented an advert for Loake shoes (fine shoes; expensive, but hard wearing making them value for money. I have owned quite a few pair over the years) at a nicely discounted price. The ad was prominent on my FB feed for 3 days, before disappearing. Sometime—10 days to a fortnight later—the ad returned to my FB feed, and after it being a constant for 5 days, I concluded it must be genuine. I mean, if it wasn't, then FB would have taken care of it...right?
Lets just keep in mind ads arriving on a feed aren't a haphazard event. We all know FB use an algorithm to direct advertising to its greatest effect.
Anyway, I order Loake shoes, and I wait. But no shoes arrive. So trying to track the absent shoes I contact both FB and Loake. FB pull down the shutters and not a word, and going to Loake's on-line site I am greeted by a page informing that Loake “are aware of a series of scams on FaceBook” and they further inform they are working with FB to “deal with” this blight.
After consideration I decide that FaceBook in their negligence, are as guilty as the scammer not just because using their product has exposed me to harm; but because they have, by algorithm, directed that harm at me.
So to court. FaceBook offer defense to my accusation with 2 counters. There is a lesser defense of they have no responsibility for the content of advertisements that companies or individuals pay a fee to have their goods and services streamed by the FB algorithm directly to the FB “members” most likely to be interested in the product. In this case the product was a scam, and FB decided that I was a ripe punter for this particular scam.
If at this point you don't think FB have a responsibility...a duty of care in this; then maybe we should have a look at FaceBook's role in the world at large. What exactly is FaceBook's business?
As a business FB is conceived and operated as an advertising platform. So far as I can ascertain it has no other significant incoming revenues. So the nitty-gritty is FB entice users to the product—an easy social connection with others—then charge fees to commercial outfits to entice the “membership” (over 50million in the UK. That's just about everybody who is old enough to hold an account) to buy/use the goods and services offered in those enticements.
The situation is that FB maintain they have no obligation to ensure (or even to attempt to ensure) that the goods and services that are the subject of such enticements not be harmful to those who might use them. Again lets not forget the role of the FB algorithm.
When I made this point to the wack-a-brained Judge Ahmed, he asked me to explain what I meant by “Duty of Care”. I was a little taken aback that a judge had no conception of what this expression was intended to convey. In all honesty, unprepared, I did a pretty good job of explaining it to the Dumbo; however he came back with some wild theories on how that could be misinterpreted in order he be able to dismiss what I was saying.
I have to say I did find the judges whole standpoint of asking me to explain “Duty of Care a strange one, as it's a term I picked up while working on legal contracts in the construction industry. So maybe this would be a good time to see what it does mean.
In accordance with the Dictionary of Law, this is a description of Duty of Care : The legal obligation to take reasonable care to avoid causing damage. There is no liability in tort for *negligence unless the act or omission that causes damage is a breach of a duty of care owed to the claimant. There is a duty to take care in most situations in which one can reasonably foresee that one’s actions may cause physical damage to the person or property of others. The duty is owed to those people likely to be affected by the conduct in question. Thus doctors have a duty of care to their patients and users of the highway have a duty of care to all other road users. But there is no general duty to prevent other persons causing damage or to rescue persons or property in danger, liability for careless words is more limited than liability for careless acts, and there is no general duty not to cause economic loss or psychiatric illness. In these and some other situations, the existence and scope of the duty of care depends on all the circumstances of the relationship between the parties. Most duties of care are the result of judicial decisions, but some are contained in statutes, such as the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957 (See occupier’s liability).
Now not only would I say that by lawful definition FB have failed in their duty of care; I would also say that in sitting a judge who needs to have the principal and lawful expression of duty of care explained to him, the Uxbridge County Court have failed in their duty of care to ensure I had a fair hearing.
What do you think?
I could tell you of several other other shadowy practices that the court applied to insure an everyday Joe has no voice against a corporate giant; but lets move on to the core of the issue.
None of the above matters a jot, because FaceBook—along with their e-cousins: Amazon, Google, you know the gang—don't have to give a flying fetus about UK law or regulation because our parliament have given them an exemption. That's right, while you and me try to maintain a civil society, e-companies can rob, steal and pillage from us at will. And I have no doubt they are working hard to find a way to e-rape us too.
Okay let me explain. In the case of FB they tell us that the office overseeing their operation of putting their product to over 50 million UK users is based in Dublin, and therefore as a company they are outside of the UK. In the court their lawyer said "FaceBook do not exists a company trading in the UK!"
When I found out this was the center plank of FB's defense I did a little research and in Gov docs I found that overseas companies trade in the UK and if they have a physical presence in the UK. This from a Gov doc: You only need to register an overseas company when it has some degree of physical presence in the UK, such as a place of business or branch, where it carries on business.
A bit more research informed a PO Box is not considered a physical presence; but anything with a door that has a letterbox is. So this is the FaceBook UK address, well it's one of several:
Address. 1 Rathbone Square London W1T 1FB.
Does it have a door and a letterbox? I'm gonna guess that as it has its very own designer post code, that it probable does. Of course we can always double check: In a list of the around the globe offices of FB we find the London office listed with no distinction of not existing: Facebook Headquarters, Office Locations and Addresses (headquartersoffice.com)
Does this “overseas” FB trade in the UK? Well it's in my home, it's on my phone. How about yours?
This company with its one product would it be considered to be trading in the UK if it employed people in the UK? This from December 2017: Facebook to recruit 800 more staff for new London office | Financial Times (ft.com)
So there are these thousands of people working for FaceBook in the UK; but apparently—according to FaceBook—none of them on the one product that Facebook produce.
And these people who aren't—according to FaceBook—involved in producing the FB product, actually put FB in the position where they have to pay tax to the UK. And we know that because every year the unsocial media report how much they are dodging from their tax bill. (Though the Wack-a-brain on the hearing would not accept that this was common knowledge...so in case he gets to read this) here's last year's headline: Facebook under fire over 'outrageous' UK tax bill - BBC News
By the way, when I say in case he gets to read this, I do so with a smile, as I will be hand posting a copy addressed to him at the court.
So FB a company that pushes its product into nearly every home in the UK, trades with UK companies taking fees from them to use its platform and direct enticement at those it holds data on with suitable predilection for goods and services of such a type. A company that employs thousands of people in the UK, pays tax in the UK on the profits of its UK operation and has a UK head office the size of a football stadium...Does not exist in the UK.
That is according to them, our courts, and our parliament.
I did in fact ask the Judge—who had been busy explaining nonsense and why he disagreed with the legal definition of “Duty of Care” to explain why FaceBook didn't have to register as an extension of its Dublin mother company, and in turn carry a responsibility to the Everyday Joes who use it. The honorable wack-a-brain chose to dish me up a grand of costs and close the hearing rather than do so.
And here's a thing, I suppose it shouldn't have surprised me, at the hearing the guy who didn't understand the legal meaning of duty of care also didn't ask FaceBook who paid for the Ad that was used to scam me.
So that's the top bottom and middle of it, FaceBook are a company that can enter your home, do you and your family harm with the full protection of our courts and our parliament.
What do I do now? Well I deliver this to my MP and to our Parliament that protects those who steal from me...from all of us., and ask that it be raised as a matter of official debate. And I ask that you sign this petition to give it public weight.
Further I ask, if you can, please copy this and send it to your MP; everyone of us has been placed at the same risk of harm, so this is not a matter of constituency boundaries. This is a matter of how overseas companies are allowed to cause harm to UK citizens with the innocent having no protection from the law.
Interpretation of the law is of no importance here. It is simply a matter of the law being wrong. It is a matter of the vulnerable being in need of the protection that law should give, yet fails to.
Also I ask that you share this on every platform you can. And for your own sake, please take my advice and buy nothing from FB advertisers. No honest trader would want to be associated with this company.