While Facebook and Twitter don't sell fake products directly to people, they should be held accountable for allowing them to be promoted on their sites. After all, even if the approval of these ads is unintentional, social networks are still making money off them. Twitter declined to comment for this article, with a company spokesperson instead pointing toward Twitter's counterfeit-goods policy, which is as clear as it gets: "Twitter prohibits the sale or promotion of sale of counterfeit goods on the Twitter platform.
Facebook, for its part, told Engadget there are "millions" of ads that get reviewed each week, sometimes manually and others by an automated service. With counterfeits cloning almost every detail of the original product, and sellers setting up landing pages resembling established retailers or brands, it's easy to see how an algorithm (or even a human) could miss a fishy advertisement. In those cases, Facebook relies on ads being flagged by users, which are then taken down if they violate the company's advertising policies.
"We do not allow counterfeit goods to be sold on Facebook or Instagram," a spokesperson said. "When we catch this type of activity, we move quickly to stop it and remove the violating account." Still, compared to the actions the company's taken against images it deemed improper for the masses, the approach to ads promoting counterfeits seems to be much less proactive. Why not act to remove them with the same sense of urgency?
For Facebook and Twitter, this is yet another issue that needs to be taken more seriously. It may not be as crucial as stopping online harassment, but they should be trying harder to protect their users from getting scammed. Because as it stands, it seems to be another case of "blame it on the algorithm, not us."