Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak is one of 18 people suing YouTube and its parent company Google over its alleged laxity in dealing with digital currency scams using influential people’s images.
BTC giveaway scams on YouTube have become worryingly common nowadays. The scams use videos and images of celebrities including Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Michael Dell, and Steve Wozniak to lure users. They ask the users to send BTC and promise to send back twice as much.
Wozniak said YouTube has played a big part in encouraging the growth of these scams. In the lawsuit, filed at a federal court in San Mateo, California, the plaintiffs claimed that YouTube has knowingly allowed the scams to operate, even though it has the power to root them out.
The lawsuit pointed to the recent Twitter hack where the hackers used celebrity accounts to solicit for BTC. Twitter acted promptly and recovered its platform within a day, it noted.
“In stark contrast, for months now, Defendant YOUTUBE has been unapologetically hosting, promoting and directly profiting from similar scams. YOUTUBE has featured a steady stream of scam videos and promotions that falsely use images and videos of Plaintiff STEVE WOZNIAK, and that have defrauded YOUTUBE users out of millions of dollars.”
Wozniak alleges that YouTube knowingly rejected taking down the videos, allowing them to multiply. Further, the platform provided paid advertising that targeted users who were most likely to be harmed. The lawsuit cited a report by Whale Alert that revealed scammers made over $24 million in the first six months of 2020, relying largely on YouTube advertising.
Wozniak said he has been trying to reach out to YouTube to stop the scammers from using his image. However, the platform has been unresponsive, he claims.
The lawsuit, filed by Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy LLP, pointed out that YouTube has also been falsely advertising that videos are live when they aren’t, deceptively hiked the number of viewers and likes and engaged in other misleading conduct.
Wozniak is the latest to sue the video-sharing platform. In April, Ripple sued YouTube for its failure to stop XRP giveaway scams on the platform. The scams allegedly used CEO Brad Garlinghouse’s image. Ripple sought to bar YouTube from monetizing such scams as well as compensation for the damage to its brand.