Steve Wozniak and more than ten other plaintiffs have sued YouTube over fraudulent videos advertising fake Bitcoin giveaways.
The fact is that scammers are very fond of using names of famous people in their scams. For example, last month, attackers hijacked three fairly popular YouTube channels and gave them new names associated with SpaceX. Then the scammers launched fake “live broadcasts” with Elon Musk, during which they carried out fictitious distribution of bitcoins.
Thus, the cybercriminals lured more than $150,000 in cryptocurrency from users in just two days.
By the way, I talked that on hacker forums noticed growing demand for credentials from YouTube channels.
Similarly, attackers often exploit names of other famous personalities, including Stephen Wozniak, Bill Gates, and so on. By showing videos in which celebrities discuss cryptocurrencies and blockchain-related topics, the scammers ask viewers to send them a small amount of cryptocurrency, promising to double and return any amount received.
Along with Wozniak, there are more than a dozen of plaintiffs in this case who were deceived by such scammers and lost bitcoins (from a few dollars to $40,000). They argue that YouTube isn’t doing enough detect such scams on its platform. For example, Wozniak’s wife, Janet, told ArsTechnica reporters that since May of this year, she has repeatedly contacted YouTube because of such scammers.
“YouTube has all the necessary tools to detect and suppress such undesirable actions, but the company does not even take obvious steps for this (for example, it does not filter videos that include phrases such as “bitcoins giveaway” in their titles)”, – claim the plaintiffs.
The lawsuit also mentions Twitter, as scammers also regularly used the platform for similar purposes. However, in recent years, Twitter has been actively fighting such a scam, and the plaintiffs believe that the “repression” on Twitter pushed the scammers to go to YouTube, where they have been at ease for many years.
The plaintiffs also argue that YouTube is not just passively allows posting of such videos. YouTube’s recommendation algorithms have promoted these videos to crypto enthusiasts, and ads have been embedded in the videos, meaning the platform has been making direct profits from the fraudulent videos.
ArsTechnica journalists point out that in this case, YouTube protects section 230 of the Communication Decency Act. Essentially, the law grants online platforms immunity when it comes to inappropriate user content.
“Sites has immunity even if they do little to combat unwanted user content”, – tell ArsTechnica journalists.
The publication reminds that courts usually rely on section 230, even in cases where users distribute child pornography. It is unlikely that this time the court will look at the problem differently, although the name of Steven Wozniak may play iits role, and perhaps YouTube will take the problem of cryptocurrency scam more seriously.