Gina Rinehart calls on Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to protect innocent Aussies from scams impersonating prominent celebrities

Article by Yashee Sharma courtesy of Sky news.

The nation’s richest person has penned a scathing letter to Mark Zuckerberg in which she accused the Meta owner of failing to protect innocent people who were losing money from scams impersonating her and other high-profile Australians.

Australia’s richest person Gina Rinehart has hit out at Mark Zuckerberg in a scathing letter that accuses him of failing to police scam accounts that impersonate her to defraud other social media users.

The mining magnate penned a blistering review of the billionaire’s attempts to stop the “increasing prevalence” of “scams and intentionally deceptive content” on his social media platforms Facebook and Instagram.

“Across Meta, numerous scammers have falsely used the names of prominent Australians such as Harry Triguboff, Dick Smith and me, in an effort to fraudulently solicit money from vulnerable people,” she wrote in the November 9 letter.

“These scams have also deceptively involved the names of high-profile media personalities from Channel 7, Sky, Channel 9, and others, wrongly using them in scams in efforts to scam money from innocent people.”

Artificially-generated likenesses including ones impersonating A Current Affair host Tracy Grimshaw and Today show host Karl Stefanovic were cited as proof of manipulative content.

Australia’s richest person Gina Rinehart has unleashed on Mark Zuckerberg in a scathing letter in which she accused the Meta owner of failing to stop scam accounts impersonating celebrities. Picture: Matt King/Getty Images

Channel Nine presenter Richard Wilkins earlier this year also said he was considering legal action against Meta for deepfakes made in his likeness to encourage people to invest in dodgy scams.

He added one particular deepfake image of him being arrested led to concerned calls from friends and family around the world.

“My kids are affected. They don’t like seeing their dad or grandad getting arrested in a park on the other side of the world,” he told the Today show in March.

The National Anti Scams Centre estimated $3.1 billion was lost in scams in 2022 – up by 80 per cent from the year before.

Ms Rinehart said the scam centre estimates 80 per cent of all scams include some form of impersonation of a legitimate entity.

A doctored A Current Affair segment of her, Dick Smith and businessman Andrew Forrest urging viewers to invest $350 to make $6,700 every week has been recently circulated on Facebook.

“It is totally fraudulent. The scammers have made up the voice and lip synced to make it look genuine,” Dick Smith wrote in a Facebook post last week.

Ms Rinehart said she had seen more than 750 scams on Facebook as opposed to only one on X, formerly known as Twitter, and her staff were unable to keep up.

“As you can appreciate, the actual toll of scams extends beyond just billions in financial losses, as they can inflict severe and lasting damage on the lives of those affected, and their families,” she wrote.

“Beyond the tangible losses of billions of dollars, the emotional and psychological toll is huge.

“Despite our staff’s concerted efforts to report such content, there remains an alarming persistence of scams, and new ones increasingly emerge.”

Mr Zuckerberg – who has yet to respond to the letter – was among a raft of tech tycoons and experts including Elon Musk and Bill Gates who gathered in Washington in September for a Senate Forum on artificial technology.

 

Mark Zuckerberg admitted safety was a key issue in the rapidly emerging generative technology industry. Picture: Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images

In a speech to congress, he admitted safety was a key issue in the rapidly emerging generative technology.

“At Meta, we’re building safeguards into our generative AI models and products from the beginning and working with others to collaborate on establishing guardrails,” he said.

“We think policymakers, academics, civil society and industry should all work together to minimise the potential risks of this new technology, but also to maximise the potential benefits.”

Ms Rinehart said the “gravity of the situation” demanded a “more comprehensive and proactivity approach”.

“Meta needs to do more,” she wrote.

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