14 June 2024
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It's time the Albanese government took on Facebook and their ilk

Peter Switzer
28 May 2024

On two occasions now, my name, my image and my brand name have been exploited by lowlife scumbags employing what’s now called deep fake AI (artificial intelligence) to swindle money out of unsuspecting Australians. I have informed my networks and have asked the ACCC to bounce Facebook/Meta to take down and exterminate these crimes against me and ultimately my business.

Get this straight, I have dedicated my media life to trying to educate Australians about money and I don’t tip stocks. In my Switzer Report, which is a paid subscription newsletter, we give normal people who want to invest in stocks, access to the insights of fund managers, company analysts from big investment banks, stockbrokers and CEOs of listed companies.

I have the same attitude and approach on my Switzer Investing TV program.

Recently I did a speech at a conference of small business operators and made the point that they could not take anything I said as “advice” because I didn’t know their personal circumstances, but I did joke that what they were going to hear was “brilliant financial education.”

As a financial planner, I have to be careful that what I say isn’t seen as personal advice. That’s why I worry when big US-owned tech companies that run social media platforms allow criminals to exploit my intellectual property — my face, my voice, my history and reputation — to scam people out of money.

I’m not alone in this disgraceful chapter in the information superhighway called the internet, with the likes of David Koch, Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest, Richard Wilkins and Larry Emdur also been tagged that way I have been. Even AMP’s Shane Oliver had to inform his newsletter readers that he again has been deep faked!

This is what he said: “Over the years I have been alerted to various fake Shane Oliver accounts on Twitter/X (which we have reported and had removed – although I suspect there may still be more). More recently I have heard of various scams in my name offering trading schemes with one involving a WhatsApp account.

“And this week a colleague discovered numerous fake Shane Oliver accounts on Facebook and a fake website (shane-oliver.com) with lots of my material and interviews with the site directing people to a WhatsApp account (presumably phishing). Again, we have reported these but they are harder to take down. It’s part of the world we live in and imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but I don’t post to a Facebook account having my name (so any account doing that is a fake), I don’t run my own website and I do not solicit funds or spruik trading schemes.”

Like the rest of us, Shane doesn’t want people misled and losing money but how many people don’t get to know that they are seeing ‘fake Oliver’ or ‘fake Switzer’ because they don’t read the AMP newsletter or visit Switzer.com.au or listen to 2GB?

This superhighway needs some cops on the beat to make sure laws are upheld that are applied to all other businesses and people.

What kind of businesses can be accessories to crimes in this country or around the world, who don’t get their butts kicked by governments and regulators?

At Christmas time potentially dangerous toys are banned, no one can build their own car and just put it on the road, and no one can call themselves a bank or financial adviser without getting smashed by ASIC. AI-related and other internet-linked crimes are going unpunished, and it should be up to the big US tech companies to self-regulate but that has not proved to be a strong point of anything that has come out of Silicon Valley.

It reminds me of what Winston Churchill said of his US allies: “Americans can always be trusted to do the right thing, once all other possibilities have been exhausted.”

To date I’ve been told by the ACCC’s media contact that the regulator has “asked Meta to take it down.” The problem I have about that is we shouldn’t be asking these social media businesses to take it down, they should be ordered to and the regulators — the ACCC, ASIC and others — need to have the Finance Minister, Stephen Jones and the Small Business Minister, Julie Collins taking up the cudgels to ‘belt’ these accessory-to- crimes companies into submission.

What if the Australian Financial Review or The Australian ran libellous and defamatory stories about the Prime Minister or Treasurer on a regular basis and what the Government would do?

It would be butt-kicking on a grand scale.

The casino operators Crown and Star behaved badly and were threatened with losing their licences, and so it has to be time that politicians stood up and started to demand these US tech companies start behaving like good corporate citizens. Even Elon Musk is so worried about the potential of AI that he insists a regulatory body needs to be set up. This is what he said in November last year about the threat of AI: "There is some chance, above zero, that AI will kill us all. I think it's slow but there is some chance. I think this also concerns the fragility of human civilization. If you study history, you will realise that every civilisation has a sort of lifespan.”

Elon could be taking AI’s threat too far, but his point is well-made that regulation of AI and the companies that exploit it with no regard to other people and businesses need to be stopped.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese should lead the charge against this worrying threat or else the Coalition’s tough guy — Peter Dutton — might have a new front to fight on. A lot of people would love to see these out-of-control tech companies start working for the good guys rather than the scumbags that live to scam honest, decent, albeit money-naïve Australians and terribly influence our young.

Our politicians have to get some guts and start fighting the good fight to make sure AI and internet exploitation/scams are dealt with as other crimes are, — with the full force of the law.

 

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