Google acknowledges distributing misleading Bitcoin ads featuring Dutch celebs: lawyer
Google admitted to distributing over 2,500 misleading Bitcoin advertisements with the names and photos of Jort Kelder, Alexander Klopping, Arjen Lubach, and Willem Middelkoop. Their lawyer Matthijs Kaaks said this in court in Amsterdam on Tuesday, where the Dutch celebrities are demanding that Google stop these advertisements that take the form of news items.
"We want to prevent Google from letting junk ads through. Google should filter all fake ads, and they don't want to do that," Kelder said in a summary of the lawsuit. The ads appeared on news sites and resembled news items, scamming consumers into investing in fake Bitcoin schemes. "Google has flown in an entire team for the lawsuit. If they lose this case, that will torpedo their business model."
The Dutch celebs involved several victims in this case. "People who have lost their money. So that the victims get a face. Their damage should be compensated, and that damage runs into the millions. I just think that an advertising company should take that responsibility," Kelder said.
According to lawyer Kaaks, Google stated that of the over 11,000 advertisements with the names of famous Dutch, it filtered 8,500 before they went online. "The problem is much bigger because there are many more public figures who are victims of this," Kaaks said. "In a quarter of the cases, false bitcoin advertisements made it through."
Kaaks called the score of 77 percent filtered posts disappointing. Google's lawyer said that the company is successfully keeping out malicious advertisers. "Google works hard to provide a clean advertising network," said company counsel Dorien Verhulst.
By far the most ad elements that slipped through from 2018 featured Jort Kelder. The name or photo of internet entrepreneur Alexander Klopping was used in 11 campaigns. Google counted three campaigns with comedian Arjen Lubach, and one with publicist Willem Middelkoop.
Google is the largest provider of online advertising space globally, operating the ad space for 35 million websites and apps. Kelder's lawsuit revolves around advertisements on news sites that resemble news items and thereby mislead consumers. In 2018 and 2019, consumers were inundated with rogue bitcoin advertisements. Kaaks: "It is not always clear that these are fake news Everything is aimed at getting people to click. Google is responsible for that."
The issue is apparently now under control. "Google also obviously does not want fraudulent advertisements to be distributed through our network," said a spokesperson from the company. “We have worked hard to stop the fraudsters and their fake bitcoin advertisements and have had this phenomenon under control for many months.”
Kelder acknowledged that the number of fake ads around his person has decreased, but he still receives weekly messages from consumers. In November, there were eight more campaigns featuring his image, he said.
Kelder set up a foundation and is conducting the lawsuit on behalf of three people who fell victim to these fake news ads. One of them was present in court. According to the lawyer, he lost 35,000 euros.
Kelder also filed a similar case against Twitter. It will appear in the Amsterdam court on Friday, March 18. The court will rule on May 18.