Since its beginning, Facebook was about having a more connected, open world.
It offered people, friends, and family a platform to connect and share. And it allowed brands and businesses to do the same for their products and services. This new open world facilitated positive connections but has also seen the use of the platform by haters, manipulators, scammers, and counterfeiters.
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Scammers on Facebook
Scammers have been exploiting the social media giant for many years as it grew and evolved as a platform for sales, ads, and more. Sales happened between connected individuals, and then on Facebook Marketplace, where users can buy and sell to people in their community.
Designed for private sales between users, scammers of all kinds exploit the Marketplace, among them counterfeiters who use it to sell fake goods. Often, the buyers of counterfeits do not know that they in fact own a fake even after the sale.
Whether users purchase fakes knowingly or unknowingly, bad actors often attempt to gain sensitive information such as a phone number or bank details that can lead to identity theft.
Facebook has later evolved into a new social commerce experience for goods. Now businesses could open a Page Shop on Facebook where customers can view, share, and purchase products directly (for more info on this see our blog on: The Benefits of Having a Facebook Shop).
Many brands and business owners use Facebook to promote their goods and services.
Unfortunately, so do counterfeiters.
Facebook Shops and Fakes
Recently, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the platform introduced Facebook Shops. Facebook Shops is a free feature tailored especially for small and medium businesses (SMBs). It allows them to conduct e-commerce through an online store on the Facebook and Instagram platforms and sell directly to users.
Although still limited and not currently available in all countries and to all businesses, it is expected to expand with Facebook Page shops that will transition to Facebook Shops. Setting up a store is free and easy and can help honest businesses.
Yet, low entry barriers enable unscrupulous sellers to use the platform, and some measures should be introduced to prevent counterfeiters from exploiting it.
In addition, the integration of features across Facebook, Instagram, and other Facebook apps will increasingly make the shopping experience seamless and easy. Although user-friendly, from the counterfeit problem perspective, it will also make the purchase of fakes so much easier.
The Downside of Privacy
Facebook also says that in the future users will be able to “make purchases right within a chat in WhatsApp, Messenger, or Instagram Direct.” To better understand this, we can look at the privacy-focused vision Mark Zuckerberg published in 2019 titled “Privacy-Focused Vision for Social Networking”.
Zuckerberg wrote, “But now, with all the ways people also want to interact privately, there’s also an opportunity to build a simpler platform that’s focused on privacy first.” This view is common to Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp.
The idea is to promote not only privacy between individuals but in groups and communities, mainly through end-to-end encryption. End-to-end encryption protects users’ privacy and offers maximum safety. It means that even Facebook is not able to see messaging information. This step in the right direction comes at a price.
As a result, privacy will come at the expense of having information available. Through private messaging between individuals and groups, the ease of exchanging information about the sale of counterfeit items will be greater than ever before, and taking down such activities will be more difficult.
Facebook Fighting Fakes
Facebook has policies against selling or advertising counterfeit goods on its platform and aims to curb the sale of counterfeits and remove posts offering fakes.
While Facebook works to remove fake products and ads, brands and individuals are always encouraged to report them and alert Facebook through its global notice-and-takedown program. The program puts the burden on brands to report fake Marketplace items and ads to Facebook as part of their brand protection strategy.
Yet, in 2017, BBC reported that even after buying counterfeit goods from two sellers and reporting them to Facebook, neither was removed from the platform. In 2018, Business Insider reported that Tiffany & Co’s Chief Compliance and Privacy Officer said Facebook had removed thousands of fake Tiffany postings.
And in 2020, The Washington Post reported on the surge in fake ads on Facebook affecting many big brands, including Patagonia, Microsoft, and Ralph Lauren. According to the article, between February and July of 2020, Patagonia says it submitted 236 reports to Facebook concerning ‘problematic ads’, some of them containing multiple examples. The company uses its own resources, but does not seem to believe Facebook does enough to help it fight fraudsters.
Wiser Online Brand and IP Protection
The best protection for your brand is to be proactive and stop your IP rights from being abused online.
Brand and IP owners who find trademark violations or any other intellectual property abuse on the Facebook platform can report them and have them removed. The task of detection, analysis, and enforcement is daunting with countless sellers, multiple sales channels and constant changes.
Wiser Market brand protection agency can help you protect your brand on Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, and any online platform.
Our monitoring system scans marketplaces, websites and social media 24/7 to alert you of trademark violations and other intellectual property rights infringements. When we detect a threat our team of experts analyzes it and perform takedown actions to ensure your IPRs are safeguarded, and, as a result, increase your online sales and improve brand reputation.
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Why sell on Facebook?
Facebook is where many of your customers hang out. This in itself makes it a good idea to sell on Facebook. Also, it is easy and free.
What is Facebook Shops?
Facebook Shops is a new feature that allows you to set up a mobile-optimized shop with access from both Facebook and Instagram.
How to connect with customers on Facebook Shops?
You will be able to connect with shoppers through Messenger, WhatsApp, or Instagram Direct to offer support and answer any questions.
What can IP rights holder report to Facebook?
Intellectual property rights holders can report an infringement on Marketplace, Facebook Shop, posts, and ads. He can ban the unauthorized and deceptive use of a brand name, logo, keywords, and even some hashtags, like those containing a trademarked name together with the word ‘replica’.
How can a brand protection agency help me?
Wiser Market brand protection agency offers online intellectual property protection. We scan marketplaces, websites, and social media 24/7 to alert our clients of trademark violations and other intellectual property rights infringements and remove them quickly and effectively.