Facebook, Instagram a ‘breeding ground’ for crypto scams, Democrats warn

Below: A journalism competition bill gets delayed, and the White House announces its tech accountability principles. First:

Facebook, Instagram are a ‘breeding ground’ for crypto scams, Democrats warn

Senate Democrats are demanding more information from Facebook’s parent company about its efforts to combat cryptocurrency fraud, citing warnings from federal regulators that such scams are booming across major platforms like Instagram and WhatsApp. 

In recent months, the Federal Trade Commission has reported that social media is increasingly becoming a premier target for fraudsters, especially those looking to cash in on the crypto craze sweeping the country. 

In June, the agency released data showing that nearly half the people who reported losing money via a crypto scam since 2021 said it originated on a social media platform. “Reports point to social media and crypto as a combustible combination for fraud,” the agency wrote. 

The agency said crypto was the most common form of payment for social media scams, and that a surge in cases has resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars lost for consumers.   

The FTC noted that three of the top four platforms singled out in those cases were owned by Meta. Instagram was mentioned in 32 percent of reported crypto scams on social media, while Facebook and WhatsApp were cited 26 percent and 9 percent of the time, respectively. 

Based on recent reports of scams on other social media platforms and apps, we are concerned that Meta provides a breeding ground for cryptocurrency fraud that causes significant harm to consumers,” the senators, led by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), wrote in a letter shared exclusively with The Technology 202.

The missive calls on Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg to detail by Oct. 24 the company’s policies on crypto scams, what steps it takes to assist victims of fraud and law enforcement pursuing cases, and whether the company takes any steps to proactively detect fraud. 

The letter was co-signed by Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.).

“Scam ads breach our ad policies and harm our business by negatively affecting people’s experiences,” Meta spokesperson Andy Stone said in a statement. 

Stone added, “The people behind scam ads use various methods and channels to reach victims across the internet, and we invest substantial resources to detect and prevent scams on our platforms.”

Lawmakers also pressed the tech giant on whether it offers “warnings or educational material regarding crypto scams in any languages other than English.”

The topic is a main focus for the FTC’s newest commissioner, Alvaro Bedoya

Bedoya said in his debut address that “platforms have repeatedly refused to answer questions from Congress on how many staff they employ to monitor for fraud in languages other than English.” He added, “That is not okay. That must change.”

In his first media interview after arriving at the FTC, Bedoya told me that he plans to “do everything I can do to try to get answers to the questions related to fraud” from tech companies.

One key hurdle for oversight, he said, is having enough staff fluent in other languages who are able to track fraud cases and follow through with enforcement action when necessary.

“I’m trying to make sure that people can report fraud in the language that they experienced it in, their main language, that we can read it in that language, that we’re tracking the number of cases … where the underlying fraud or conduct was in a language other than English,” he said.

Diversifying the agency’s workforce is crucial, Bedoya added. 

“We need to do a lot better on this, and it cannot be where we have divisions where we don’t have investigators who speak Spanish fluently,” he said. 

Menendez and other members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus have separately pressed Facebook and other tech companies about their efforts to curb misinformation in Spanish, including by demanding information on how many staffers they devote to the cause

Journalism competition bill tabled after Senate markup fracas

A bill to let news outlets band together to negotiate terms with online platforms was delayed indefinitely on Thursday after Senate Republicans successfully amended it to target allegations of social media “censorship,” Politico’s Josh Sisco and Brendan Bordelon report. 

The Journalism Competition and Preservation Act, S.673, has drawn bipartisan support but faced conflicting criticism from consumer advocates who say it would have a chilling effect on content moderation and from conservatives who say it would enable collusion by news outlets and tech companies. Sen. John Neely Kennedy (R-La.), who co-sponsored the legislation, voted for the amendment, which passed 11-10.

“The agreement that we had has been blown up,” said Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), who co-sponsored the bill. She temporarily withdrew the bill from consideration. 

White House announces principles for tech accountability

The Biden administration released the six principles after meeting with D.C. Attorney General Karl A. Racine (D) and technology experts, the White House said in a statement. The principles cover competition, federal privacy rules, stronger online children’s protections, removing protections for tech platforms like Section 230, boosting transparency about algorithms and content moderation, and halting algorithmic discrimination.

“These principles are the culmination of months of work by the administration and engagement with numerous stakeholders,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said. “We’re looking forward to hearing any feedback from the tech companies.”

Truth Social in limbo as critical shareholder meeting delayed

Special-purpose acquisition company Digital World Acquisition postponed an important meeting by a month, throwing the main backer of former president Donald Trump’s social media venture into doubt, Drew Harwell reports. The company needs 65 percent of its shareholders to vote for extending its deadline for the merger by a year, but not enough people voted.

“Digital World’s charter allows its executives another three-month extension after this one, at a similar cost, to complete the deal,” Drew writes. “If the merger is still not done by then, Digital World has said it could be forced to liquidate, returning all of its money to investors and leaving Trump’s operation with nothing.”

The chief executives of major tech companies shared their admiration for Queen Elizabeth II. Apple CEO Tim Cook:

Amazon chief executive Andy Jassy:

Google chief executive Sundar Pichai:

Facebook parent Meta Platforms cuts Responsible Innovation team (The Wall Street Journal)

Twitter agreed to pay whistleblower roughly $7 million in June settlement (The Wall Street Journal)

Google pays ‘enormous’ sums to maintain search-engine dominance, DOJ says (Bloomberg)

Musk says SpaceX discussed iPhone satellite service with Apple (Bloomberg)

Crypto exchange targets Treasury sanctions in national security clash (Tory Newmyer)

Treasury will warn White House that crypto needs major regulations (Jeff Stein and Tory Newmyer)

Twitter experiences intermittent outages following death of Queen Elizabeth II (Motherboard)

  • Christel Schaldemose, a member of the European Parliament who is rapporteur for the Digital Services Act, discusses the DSA at an event hosted by the German Marshall Fund and Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs on Monday at noon.
  • Twitter whistleblower Peiter “Mudge” Zatko testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday at 10 a.m.
  • FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks speaks at a Consumer Technology Association event on Tuesday at 4 p.m.
  • Current and former executives at social media companies testify before the Senate Homeland Security Committee on Wednesday at 10 a.m.
  • A Senate Judiciary Committee panel holds a hearing on protecting Americans’ personal information from foreign adversaries on Wednesday at 3:30 p.m.
  • FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel speaks at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Global Aerospace Summit on Wednesday.
  • The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation and the XR Association host the Augmented and Virtual Reality Policy Conference on Wednesday.

Thats all for today — thank you so much for joining us! Make sure to tell others to subscribe to The Technology 202 here. Get in touch with tips, feedback or greetings on Twitter or email

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