Facebook owner Meta Platforms is struggling to stop counterfeiters from pushing fake luxury goods from Gucci to Chanel across its social media apps, according to research and interviews, as the company barrels into ecommerce.
Its platforms have emerged as hot spots for counterfeit offenders who exploit their range of social and private messaging tools to reach users, according to interviews with academics, industry groups and counterfeit investigators, who likened brands’ attempts at policing services like Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp as a game of “whack-a-mole.”
“Facebook and Instagram are the key marketplaces where counterfeit goods get sold to members of the public. It used to be eBay 10 years ago, and Amazon five years ago,” said Benedict Hamilton, a managing director at Kroll, a private investigation company hired by brands hurt by counterfeiting and smuggling.
Research, led by social media analytics firm Ghost Data and shared exclusively with Reuters https://ghostdata.io/report/Upd-Meta-Counterfeit-Empire1221.pdf, showed counterfeiters hawking imitations of luxury brands including Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Fendi, Prada and Chanel.
It identified more than 26,000 active counterfeiters’ accounts operating on Facebook in a June-October 2021 study, the first time its counterfeit research had focused on Meta’s flagship app, and it found more than 20,000 active counterfeiters’ accounts on Instagram, up from its count the previous year but down from a 2019 peak when they identified about 56,000 accounts. About 65% of the accounts found in 2021 were based in China, followed by 14% in Russia and 7.5% in Turkey.
Ghost Data is an Italian analytics firm founded by cybersecurity expert Andrea Stroppa, who is also a data analyst consultant for the World Economic Forum. The firm has a track record of exposing the use of social media by counterfeiters, Islamic State supporters and for digital propaganda.
A Reuters search of keywords identified dozens of Instagram accounts and Facebook posts that appeared to promote counterfeit goods, which Meta removed for violating its rules after Reuters flagged them.
Online commerce is a key priority for Meta, which has pushed new shopping features that could help grow its revenue as it faces pressures like ads tracking changes and sputtering user growth https://www.reuters.com/technology/facebook-owner-meta-forecasts-q1-revenue-below-estimates-2022-02-02, and has signaled a hard stance against counterfeiters. Instagram said luxury brands like Dior, Balenciaga and Versace had adopted shopping features on its app and said some like Oscar De La Renta and Balmain were using in-app checkout.
But users exploiting its platforms to sell fake goods present a persistent problem for the company, which also faces scrutiny from lawmakers and regulators about its content moderation.
“The sale of counterfeits and fraud is a problem that has always persisted with new technology,” said a Meta company spokesperson in a statement. “We are getting better every day at stopping these sales and cracking down on fraudsters,” the person added.
Most buyers know they are not getting the real deal when they pay $100 for a handbag that retails for over $5,000. But harms include hits to brands’ sales and reputation, potential safety issues of unregulated goods, and ties between counterfeiting and organized criminal activity, experts said.
Meta has joined ecommerce sites and online marketplaces in grappling with the sale of counterfeit goods. But unlike public listings on sites dedicated to shopping like eBay and Amazon.com, social platforms also provide offenders multiple channels to post in closed spaces, send private messages and use disappearing content like Instagram Stories, experts said.
“They’re creating a lot of unique opportunities for counterfeiters to hide,” said Lara Miller, vice president of corporate strategy at the International AntiCounterfeiting Coalition. “We’re all playing catch-up.”
Counterfeiters took advantage of features like WhatsApp product catalogs, which are unencrypted and available through the app’s “business profile” option, to show their wares, the Ghost Data report said.
Ghost Data’s Stroppa said he had seen an increasing trend of whole counterfeit transactions occurring on the company’s platforms, rather than linking out to external sites.
Some high-end labels remain wary of the ability of a broad spectrum of major online platforms, from ecommerce sites to social apps, to deal with counterfeiters.
In 2020, Chanel, Lacoste and Gant left a European Commission initiative aimed at increasing cooperation between brands and sites including eBay, Alibaba and Facebook’s Marketplace to fight counterfeiting, saying it was not effective.
Chanel finance chief, Philippe Blondiaux, said in an interview last year that Chanel, which only sells cosmetics and perfume online, did not believe Facebook or Instagram were “the right environment to sell luxury items,” adding the brand wanted a “very protected” and intimate environment for its customers.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which estimated the global trade in counterfeit products was as much as $464 billion in 2019 https://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/sites/74c81154-en/index.html?itemId=/content/publication/74c81154-en, has said a boom in ecommerce in 2020-21 led to massive growth in the supply of online counterfeit goods. Academics said the fraud had mushroomed during the COVID-19 pandemic, while legislation in the United States and European Union remained unable to combat it.
Chanel, Gucci and Prada said their fight against counterfeiters resulted in hundreds of thousands of social media posts taken down last year, but did not comment specifically on Meta’s services. Vuitton and Fendi owner LVMH, which in a filing said it spent $33 million to fight counterfeiting in 2020, declined to comment.
According to a lawsuit Meta filed with Gucci last year, the platform has struggled since 2015 to shut down a woman in Moscow accused of selling fake goods on is services via a network of more than 150 accounts.
Meta having more user shopping data https://www.reuters.com/business/media-telecom/facebook-expands-shops-whatsapp-marketplace-commerce-updates-2021-06-22 could help with ad targeting, filling an information vacuum left after Apple started letting owners of its devices block companies from accessing user information.
Meta legal directors told Reuters that cracking down on counterfeiters was key as its commerce plans ramped up. “As commerce has become a strategic priority for the company and as we’ve been building new shopping experiences, we’ve recognized that we want to make sure those experiences are safe and trusted for brands and for the users,” Meta’s director and associate general counsel for IP Mark Fiore said last summer.
Meta, which says it has 3.59 billion monthly active users across its apps, in October launched an updated tool for brands to search and report counterfeits in posts, ads or commerce features, and says it typically responds to complaints of such infringements within 24 hours.
In a recent report https://transparency.fb.com/data/intellectual-property/notice-and-takedown/facebook, the company said it removed 1.2 million pieces of counterfeit Facebook content, including accounts, reported to it from January to June 2021 and about half a million on Instagram. The company said in this period it also proactively removed 283 million pieces of Facebook content violating counterfeit or copyright infringement rules and about 3 million on Instagram, either before they were reported by brands or before they went live.
(Reporting by Elizabeth Culliford in New York and Silvia Aloisi in Milan; Editing by Kenneth Li, Vanessa O’Connell and Lisa Shumaker)
‘McGregor-Mayweather rematch in the making’
Mayweather beat McGregor in their huge clash back in June 2017 but McGregor has hinted at a possible rematch in a post on his Instagram account.
The UFC superstar posted a cryptic post hinting at a second bout by sharing a picture of their 2017 clash and writing, “I accept.”
However, it’s uncertain as to whether a rematch between the pair would be another exhibition bout, or whether Mayweather would make it one more professional fight.
Meanwhile, YouTuber, Jake Paul, has repeatedly claimed that Mayweather still hasn’t paid him following last year’s exhibition bout. Their eight-round exhibition bout went to a draw as Mayweather was unable to knockout Paul, “Floyd Mayweather is broke. I have been saying it all the time. I think he probably spent it on the girls he pays to be around him. He’s hard to hit, but even harder to collect money from. Who should I fight next?”
However, Mayweather has since dismissed the accusations claiming that Paul has suggested that the pair should have a second exhibition bout.
“This is the guy who said he didn’t get paid, which we know is truly false, which is why I don’t entertain the bull*** a lot of the time. We know he got paid and if he didn’t get paid he wouldn’t be trying to get another payday. It is so crazy that Logan Paul wants to do an exhibition again but it is the same guy that said he didn’t get paid. It is what it is,” said Mayweather.
Mayweather was expected to earn US$64 million from the fight, with Logan receiving US$18.5 million of the purse.
G7: Canada to elevate small Commonwealth nations' concerns – CTV News
KIGALI, Rwanda –
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau headed to the G7 summit in Germany on Saturday without a consensus from the Commonwealth to condemn the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but with a chorus of countries calling for help to overcome the fallout of the war.
Trudeau and Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly arrived in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, on Wednesday for the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting, which has been dominated by the concerns of nations that are suffering from food scarcity. Trudeau departed for the G7 talk slater in the day.
In the final communique from the Commonwealth summit, the 54 participating countries said they discussed the conflict in Ukraine, ” underscored the need to respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of all states,” and ” emphasized that all countries must seek peaceful resolution to all disputes in accordance with international law.”
The countries stopped short of condemning Russia, as Trudeau and United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson have done throughout the summit.
“I can assure you that the topic of standing up for Ukraine was much discussed,” Trudeau said at a press conference following the conclusion of the summit, referencing “strong language” in the communique.
Most Commonwealth Nations condemned Russia’s actions at a United Nations vote in March, but 10 abstained. Among them was India, whose Prime Minister Narendra Modi opted not to attend the Commonwealth summit and instead spoke virtually with the leaders of Russia, China, Brazil and South Africa.
Trudeau said Russian President Vladimir Putin has run a disinformation campaign and has even been “telling outright lies,” including blaming the food security crisis on Western sanctions against Russia.
He said food shortage stems from Russia’s illegal actions, including blockade at key ports, as well as the deliberate targeting of Ukrainian grain storage facilities through cruise missile strikes.
“I was very clear with our friends and partners around the table, and not just clear on Russia’s responsibility, but on how Canada and the West are stepping up,” Trudeau said.
Canada will be raising the growing threat of famine at the G7 in Schloss Elmau Germany, Joly said.
She said Canada was in “listening mode” at the Commonwealth meetings, where leaders of smaller nations were able to speak without the dominating presence of the United States, Russia and China.
“What is clear to us is that Russia is weaponizing food and putting a toll on many countries around the world, and putting 50 million lives at risk,” Joly told reporters Friday in Rwanda.
Trudeau had attempted to meet with the chair of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, for several days during the Commonwealth summit but the sit-down was repeatedly postponed and eventually cancelled.
Shortly after Trudeau arrived in Rwanda, the government announced Canada would dedicate a new ambassador to the African Union, which has suffered from the food shortages inflicted on the continent as a result of the warin Ukraine.
Both Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and Putin have met with representatives of the African Union, with Russia blaming sanctions against its government for stopping the flow of grain.
At the conclusion of the Commonwealth summit, Trudeau announced $94 million in funding for various education initiatives and $120 million to support gender equality and women’s rights in Commonwealth countries.
Some of the other voices the prime minister has promised to centre at his international meetings, including the G7 summit,
belong to youth leaders who spoke at a Saturday-morning event focused on issues facing young people around the world.
Some of the delegates spoke about the devastating effects of climate change, particularly around remote island nations where infrastructure cannot withstand natural disasters and rebuilding efforts take years. The onslaught takes a toll on education and health services, one delegate told the forum.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 25, 2022.
New federal task force to review Canada’s immigration, passport delays – Global News
The federal government has created a special task force to help tackle the major delays with immigration applications and passport processing that have left Canadians frustrated.
In a statement announcing the new task force, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the federal government knows the delays are unacceptable, and will continue to do everything it can to improve the delivery of the services in an efficient and timely manner.
Trudeau said the new task force will help guide the government to better meet the changing needs of Canadians, and continue to provide them with the high-quality services they need and deserve.
Ten cabinet members will spearhead the new committee, which will review how services are delivered, and identify gaps and areas for improvement.
New passport wait-time estimator shows system backlog
The committee will be expected to make recommendations outlining short- and longer-term solutions that would reduce wait times, clear out backlogs, and improve the overall quality of services provided.
In addition, the task force will monitor external issues, such as labour shortages around the world, which contribute to travel delays at home and abroad.
© 2022 The Canadian Press
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