Sun Xueling slams Meta for resisting S’pore govt’s anti-scam efforts

Sun Xueling criticises Meta for constant pushback against MHA’s recommendations to fight scams

Minister of State for Home Affairs Sun Xueling has called out Meta for not cooperating with the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to fight scams.

As the parent company of Facebook, Meta had pushed back against MHA’s recommendations on implementing safeguards to protect users against these scams.

She urged the firm to do right by its users, pointing out that platforms like Shopee and Carousell were working with the government.

Sun Xueling calls out Meta for lack of cooperation

Speaking in Parliament on Thursday (29 Feb), Ms Sun criticised Meta’s lack of cooperation with MHA on the issue of protecting users against scams on Facebook.

Source: MCI Singapore on YouTube

“Meta has consistently pushed back against MHA’s recommendations for them to put in place safeguards to combat e-commerce scams on Facebook,” she said.

This involved verifying users against government-issued identification (ID) and offering a secured payment option for Marketplace users.

Source: Fox News for illustration purposes only

Meta products such as Facebook, WhatsApp, and Instagram were among the top online platforms that scammers exploited, which accounted for nearly half of the scam cases in 2023 and resulted in losses of S$280 million.

Job scams, e-commerce scams, and fake friend call scams were among the top scams of 2023. Ms Sun noted that these scams relied more on social engineering than technological sophistication.

Meta urged to step up and do right

Ms Sun added that Facebook is the only platform in the E-commerce Marketplace Transaction Safety Ratings (TSR) to have not put up or begin to implement the recommended safety features.

“As a result, Facebook Marketplace was ranked the lowest in the TSR for the second consecutive year,” she said.

Source: MCI Singapore on YouTube

Conversely, platforms like Shopee and Carousell have been working with MHA and the police to combat scams.

Shopee, for instance, implemented verification features in December 2022, requiring sellers to verify their identities against government records. Between 2021 and 2023, scams reported on Shopee fell by 71%.

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

More measures implemented to fight scammers

The ScamShield app will also contain more enhancements for the improved detection of scam SMSes. It will allow users to report scams with further ease.

In addition, the government will consolidate anti-scam resources into a one-stop portal in 2024. Such a move will boost public education against scams.

Elaborating on this, Ms Sun said that the website will contain information on the latest scam trends, what individuals can do if they think they were the victim of a scam and preventive measures.

She revealed that the government is also looking into additional measures “to better protect unwitting members of the public”.

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Featured image by MCI Singapore on YouTube and Business Today for illustration purposes only.

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