APP Fraud Parliamentary Hearing Sees Meta On The Defence

Jimmie Franklin


February 23, 2024

UK lawmakers have taken to task the big tech company over its failure to rein in fraud, accusing it of failing to take the issue seriously and having no incentive to do so. In this blog, we highlight the key concerns, and the bigger picture of social media liability.

Meta’s APP Fraud Fiasco

Members of parliament (MPs) have heard evidence from payment service providers (PSPs) and big tech firms this week as representatives from firms such as Revolut took Meta to task for being a “hotbed” for fraud.

Meta’s exchanges with the lawmakers throughout the hearing were tense, with Home Affairs Select Committee chair Diana Johnson saying mockingly “we know that a number of you were not very keen to appear before us” to Meta and other attendees, Microsoft and BT Group.  In her exchange with Meta’s Philip Milton, the MP said that the company is “not doing all you can” to prevent fraud happening on its social media site, Facebook. “I disagree with that,” said Milton, the company’s public policy chief. “To give you an idea of the scale of what we are putting in place to tackle this kind of thing, since 2016 we have invested $20bn in safety and security.”

According to Milton, this investment “is not slowing down”, with $5bn of that sum in the last year. “So, we invest significantly in trying to prevent this kind of thing from happening,” he pointed out. However, this was met with scepticism from Johnson, who asked Milton how effective this investment has been and noting that Meta in particular has been mentioned by PSPs as a source of fraud. “So, you may be putting all this money in but it doesn’t seem to be working,” the Labour MP said.

Meta has increasingly been attacked in recent years over authorised push payment (APP) scams. Banks and other PSPs have taken the big tech firm to account, arguing that it is often the source of scams that ultimately mean the bank has to pay out to the consumer who has been wilfully taken advantage of by criminals.

This has led to lobby groups such as The Payments Association and UK Finance, and also Nordic and Baltic trade associations, calling for social media firms to be held more accountable.

In the EU at least, this looks set to happen should members of the European Parliament get their way with the Payment Services Regulation (PSR). The lack of accountability was highlighted by Tim Loughton, a member of the committee, during the hearing.

“Okay, so you have no skin in the game,” the Conservative MP said. “Therefore, what is the incentive for you to do better and to work more closely with the banks, who do have skin in the game?”

Loughton noted that UK retail bank TSB has refunded 95 percent of people who have been scammed. “About four fifths of those scams happen on your company’s platform.”

Milton dismissed the idea that the company does not have skin in the game, despite not being in scope of fraud reimbursement rules.

“We are directly incentivised to ensure that the people who use our platform have a safe and enjoyable experience, because if they do not, they will not use our platform,” he said.

Milton added that the reputational damage that is done to Meta as a result of fraud is enormous. “That directly hits our bottom line.”

“That is why we invest significantly to prevent people from using our platforms in that way.”

Representatives from TSB Bank, Santander and e-money institution Revolut submitted evidence to a cross-party group of MPs on the Home Affairs Select Committee.

"We need to bring some of those other people in the ecosystem into the prevention sphere. We need to be able to say that the platforms need to take action to reduce the number of scams that are posted, the number of adverts posting cryptocurrency scams, and the number of cars that are posted."

- Chris Ainsley, fraud risk management Chief, Santander

Paul Davis, financial crime prevention director at TSB, said that Meta's Facebook Marketplace "can be a good way for people to get rid of unwanted items and give them to someone who does want them, Unfortunately, it is also very attractive to criminals, and they have seemingly infiltrated that platform to quite a high extent, with an intent to defraud consumers," he commented.

In a response to Conservative MP Loughton about whether Meta is taking fraud risks seriously enough, Davis said that, for now, he was "encouraged" by the UK's Tech Charter, which has been signed by firms including Meta.

"The timescale in the charter for those provisions to be implemented is six months, and we are still in those six months," he said. "For me, it is a waiting game to see that these new provisions and these new commitments from the signatories to that charter will indeed make a difference."

Davis acknowledged that he had met with Meta. "We wrote to them, outlining our concerns. We were very pleased that they came to our offices to talk about those concerns. My view on that is similar, which is that they have talked about actions that they are taking, but I hope that they will now translate that into action, with less risk for UK consumers."

Is social media liability an inevitability?

Throughout the parliamentary hearing, it was clear that MPs from left and right were disbelieving that Meta is pulling its weight, despite what Milton had to say.

Lloyds, Barclays, TSB, Santander, Nationwide Building Society and Revolut have all called out the use of Meta platforms and social media in general for scams.

What will be interesting to see this year is whether the Labour Party, who are tipped to win the UK’s next election, commit to increasing accountability in this space.

The Conservatives too, as evidenced by Loughton, could wish to firm up commitments.

MPs are clearly hearing from their constituents that scams are rife, and therefore tougher rules for social media firms to take responsibility for APP fraud beginning on their platforms could be low-hanging fruit for political parties drafting the manifestos they want to take to the country.

Indeed, six in ten people want tech giants to reimburse fraud victims, a study by the Social Market Foundation in partnership with Nationwide Building Society found last year.

The UK’s Payment Systems Regulator has often been quick to remind us that it cannot take action against social media firms as they are not in its statutory remit.

However, Chris Hemsley, managing director at the regulator, has previously said that he wants to see greater transparency, particularly on how well social media firms are managing the risks caused by their platforms.

He is also thought to have recently told attendees at an event that he was sympathetic to the idea that social media firms should cover the cost of the fraud that occurs via their networks.

Fraud has become an increasingly political subject since the rise of online payments. Rules such as strong customer authentication (SCA) have undoubtedly been effective for unauthorised payments; however, SCA was introduced as digital payment methods became far more prominent, leading to scammers finding a better, and more profitable, source of income.

In the EU, social media firms being held accountable financially alongside the banking industry is likely to be a key negotiating point for the Payment Services Regulation (PSR).

If a regulatory behemoth like the EU did bring this into the PSR, and firms had to comply, then it could encourage the UK to follow suit in forcing the likes of Meta to reimburse consumers who fall victim to bad actors on their websites.

Want to know more?

Vixio subscribers stay on the pulse with access to our full reporting. Get in touch to find out more about this topic, and many others., and to find out how Vixio PaymentCompliance could help your business.

Get in Touch

What our clients say

"Vixio Regulatory Compliance offers excellent legal and regulatory analysis and provides us with a trustworthy, organised and credible single source solution, which keeps us ahead of the game."


"Vixio GamblingCompliance is an invaluable source of regulatory information, making it an excellent tool for the gambling industry. The quality of analysis is unmatched and the ease of use searching for topics, regions and themes makes it very simple to identify relevant stories."

Morgan Stanley

Senior Researcher

"Vixio GamblingCompliance is crucial to keeping a finger on the pulse of gambling regulation. Accessing a single, credible source of information and news helps us efficiently evolve our systems to align with regulatory developments."

PayPal UK

Head of Risk Management

"Hands down one of the most unique full suite sources of this subject matter anywhere."

UnionPay International

Managing Counsel

"The ever-increasing change coming from various regulators in different territories makes Vixio Regulatory Intelligence a must for a compliance team at a business like ours."


Head of Legal & Compliance

"Using Vixio PaymentsCompliance gives us a comprehensive view of the critical changes in regulation in our key markets, and reduces our business resource requirement which saves us on average £100k per annum, we wouldn't be without it!"

Well known e-money company

Regulatory Compliance Team Lead

Download Brochure

Insights and intelligence for some of the world’s biggest brands

To find out more about Vixio, contact us today