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Sun Xueling calls out Meta for not cooperating with MHA to reduce scams on Facebook, urges company 'to step up, to do right by users'

The parent of Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram has not implemented any of MHA's anti-scam recommendations; Meta says it's "dismayed" by remarks

Sun Xueling called out Facebook parent Meta’s lack of cooperation in parliament. (Photos: MCI, Getty Images)
Sun Xueling called out Facebook parent Meta’s lack of cooperation in parliament. (Photos: MCI, Getty Images)

SINGAPORE – With a record number of scam cases in Singapore and at least $1.1 million lost to ticket scams from fake online listings last year, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has been working with online platforms to combat the scam problem. However, not all platforms have been cooperative, such as Facebook parent company Meta.

During the debate on MHA’s budget on Thursday (29 February), Minister of State for Home Affairs Sun Xueling called out Meta’s lack of cooperation and said that the company has “consistently pushed back against MHA’s recommendations for them to put in place safeguards to combat e-commerce scams on Facebook”.

This includes measures such as verifying users against government-issued IDs and offering secured payment options for users of Facebook Marketplace.

Meta uncooperative despite scams on its platforms resulting in $280 million of losses

Sun also shared that Meta products, in particular Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram, accounted for 43 per cent of scam cases in 2023 and around $280 million of losses.

Additionally, Facebook contributed close to 50 per cent of e-commerce scam cases last year, and is the only platform on MHA’s E-commerce Marketplace Transaction Safety ratings (TSR) that has not implemented, or started to implement, recommended safety features.

This is a stark contrast to platforms like Shopee and Carousell, said Sun. She shared that Shopee introduced seller verification features where sellers had to verify their identities against government records, and saw a 71 per cent drop in e-commerce scams between 2021 and 2023.

Carousell, meanwhile, co-located their staff at the Singapore Police Force’s Anti-Scam Command office. This has resulted in the reduction of the turnaround time for "taking down online monikers involved in scams and advertisements" on the platform from days to hours.

Sun also mentioned that this is an initiative the police plan to extend to more platforms.

“I urge Meta to step up, to do right by your users,” she said.

Meta responds to Sun's remarks, says it is 'dismayed'

Responding to Sun's remarks, a Meta spokesperson told CNA that the company is “dismayed” by the statements in Parliament, saying it has been in close consultations with MHA and is "reviewing their suggestions seriously".

"Scams are a complex, industry-wide threat, and we recognise that no single solution or company can tackle them alone. We are committed to continue working closely with government partners on consumer education campaigns and will continue to evolve our products and tools to help people better protect themselves against scams,” the spokesperson added.

Sun also shared other actions that MHA is planning to take to continue fighting against scams such as a one-stop portal on scams for public education.

Additionally, she said that MHA would be introducing offences to deter the misuse of local SIM cards for scams and other criminal activities, as well as enhancing ScamShield to improve the accuracy of scam SMS detection and allow users to report scams more easily.

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