Meta a less receptive partner. I urge Meta to do right by your users: Sun Xueling

meta a less receptive partner i urge meta to do right by your users sun xueling

Speaking in Parliament during the Committee of Supply Debate 2024 on “Advancing the Fight against Scams”, MOS (Home Affairs and MSF) Sun Xueling said that Meta products, in particular Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram, were among the top online platforms exploited by scammers. They accounted for close to half of the scam cases in 2023, and about 43%, around $280 million of losses.

Scammers are constantly evolving their modus operandi to get around our defences, she said.

“We implemented measures to block scam calls and SMSes, but scammers then pivoted to social media and messaging apps to reach out to victims.”

MHA and SPF have been engaging online platforms, specifically those which account for a large number of scams, MOS Sun said.

“We have encountered varying levels of receptivity.”

Some like Shopee and Carousell have been willing, and are working closely with MHA and the Police, such as by strengthening their user verification processes.

In December 2022, Shopee introduced the seller verification features where sellers were required to verify their identities against Government records. As a result, Shopee observed a sharp drop of 71% in e-commerce scams between 2021 and 2023 reported on their platform.  

MOS Sun said that other platforms have been less willing to implement additional measures.

She highlighted Meta which she said has consistently pushed back against MHA’s recommendations for them to put in place safeguards to combat e-commerce scams on Facebook. These includes measures such as verifying users against Government-issued ID and offering a secured payment option for Marketplace users.

“This is despite Facebook contributing close to 50% of e-commerce scam cases in 2023,” MOS Sun said.

“It is the only platform, amongst those rated in MHA’s E-commerce Marketplace Transaction Safety Ratings (TSR), that has not implemented, or commenced implementing, the recommended safety features. As a result, Facebook Marketplace was ranked the lowest in the TSR for the second consecutive year,” she added.

 “I urge Meta to step up, to do right by your users,” she said. 

MOS Sun also revealed in Parliament that the number of scam cases increased by close to 50% in 2023, while amounts lost to scams remained more or less the same since 2021. 

The increase in scam numbers was largely driven by scams using social engineering and deception rather than technological sophistication, to manipulate victims into transferring monies. These scams accounted for 92% of scam losses, or about $600 million, out of approximately $650 million lost to scams in 2023. 

In many of these cases, the victims initiated the transfer of monies to scammers. 

The top 10 scams in terms of number of victims included job scams, e-commerce scams and fake friend call scams. Victims of these scams believed in the fake job or e-commerce offers promoted to them, or that calls made to them by scammers pretending to be their friends were real. 


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