Commonwealth drops charges against Meta (Facebook) raised by Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest in WA District Court

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A court battle between Australian billionaire Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest and Meta (Formerly Facebook) has been dropped by the Commonwealth DPP in the WA District Court.

Forrest had pursued criminal charges against the social media company over an alleged cryptocurrency clickbait advertising scam that promotes fake investment schemes using his image.

He claimed that Meta had been criminally reckless in its refusal to remove the fraudulent ads from its platform, which has seen Australians lose substantial amounts of money.

Meta had entered pleas of not guilty.

Speaking outside of court, one such victim from WA, who wished to remain anonymous, said it was a “shame” the Commonwealth was not pursuing the action.

The woman alleged she had lost more than $600,000 to the scam over a period of three months.

“It is really disheartening the way things have happened because it shows that Australia is very far behind today that we are still tackling these issues with scams.

“Scams are on the rise we were sitting at $800 million at that time, today we have crossed $3 billion in losses to scams.

“It is just on the rise unless the courts and legislation don’t change we will continue to lose money.”

Because Dr Forrest is a private citizen, and therefore cannot prosecute charges on indictment, the matter was taken over by the Commonwealth to pursue criminal charges in the District Court.

The DPP told the court on Friday after reviewing a brief of evidence they had decided to discontinue the case.

Dr Andrew Forrest AO said Friday’s decision in the WA District Court was a tragedy for innocent parents and grandparents who have lost their life savings.

“It shows that Facebook is beyond the laws of Australia, that hardworking Australians are not protected, and that scams will continue to run rampant with no recourse for those who are duped by increasingly sophisticated technology on social media platforms that take no responsibility,” he said.

“In this case, the Australian legal system was incapable of holding Meta to account for flagrant conduct that causes significant harm to Australian citizens.

“I will campaign for urgent law reform in Australia so effective action can be taken against foreign owned social media platforms such as Facebook. Politicians must take responsibility on behalf of ordinary mums and dads. And it must happen immediately.

“Meta hides behind the lie that it does not do business in Australia, hiding behind a US entity. Foreign companies must be made to abide by Australian law.

“This is why I launched my case in the U.S and will continue to pursue Meta through my civil action in America.”

The Australian reported from court documents that Dr Forrest is also suing Meta in California, where the company’s headquarters are located. According to the report, Meta claims to have immunity from liability over fraudulent posts and other material that is published across its apps.

“The law in question is Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which US Congress enacted in 1996 to protect internet companies from liability of content posted by third parties. In subsequent years, tech giants have claimed that extends to digital advertising – a position Dr Forrest is challenging.”

The ACCC is also pursuing a similar case against the social media giant.

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