Tuesday, July 23, 2024
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Japanese government urges social media operators to strengthen ad screening after rapid rise in online scams


The Yomiuri Shimbun
Prime Minister Fumio Kishida (left) and other ministers attend a ministerial meeting on anti-crime measures at the Prime Minister’s Office on Tuesday morning.

In response to a sharp increase in fraudulent social media advertising using the names and images of prominent figures without their consent to solicit investment or for other purposes, the government plans to urge social media operators to to strengthen screening of advertisements to be placed.

This step is the most important part of comprehensive measures in ministries and agencies. The decision was taken on Tuesday during a ministerial meeting on measures against crime.

False advertisements on social media have become a gateway to investment fraud and cause damage. The government is considering urging social media platforms such as Meta Platforms Inc., which operates Facebook, to improve their screening of ads, with the aim of working with the public sector to prevent harm.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said at the meeting: “I hope you will make thorough efforts with strong determination to protect the public from fraud.”

According to the KLPD, the damage caused by fraud doubled last year compared to the previous year to approximately 163 billion euros. Damages from social media-related fraud amounted to approximately €33.4 billion from January to April this year, up from approximately €27.8 billion during a one-year period last year.

The comprehensive measures include asking social media operators to formulate and publish their screening standards for posting advertisements. Operators are also requested to improve their screening systems by assigning sufficient staff to the task who understand the Japanese language and Japanese laws and regulations, and to strengthen the identification of advertisers.

The government is also asking operators to immediately remove advertisements that have been used fraudulently. Furthermore, as there have been many cases of people being deceived after being led to group chats with a limited number of users, operators are requested to refrain from posting advertisements designed to direct users to such chats in principle.

In addition to Meta, the request is also expected to be addressed to other operators, including line operator LY Corp.

Meanwhile, the harm of so-called romance fraud, in which victims are tricked via social media into romantic feelings so that the perpetrator can extort money from them, is also a serious problem. The extended measures require operators of dating apps, which are the main point of contact in the fraud, to strictly verify users’ identities when opening accounts.

In addition, as a measure against special fraud, the means of identification when signing a mobile phone contract will in principle be merged into My Number personal identification cards. As fake My Number cards are misused for fraudulent contracts, the government will promote an electronic verification method that reads IC chip information.

The ministerial meetings on anti-crime measures were established in 2003 to address the deteriorating public security situation, and Tuesday’s meeting was the 39th.

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