SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Blockchain firm Ripple sued Alphabet Inc’s YouTube on Tuesday, alleging the video-sharing platform failed to protect consumers from cryptocurrency “giveaway” scams that use fake social media profiles to dupe victims into sending money.
FILE PHOTO: A 3D-printed YouTube icon is seen in front of a displayed YouTube logo in this illustration taken October 25, 2017. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Ilustration/File Photo
The company says scammers on YouTube have been impersonating Ripple and its chief executive, Brad Garlinghouse, to bait viewers into sending them thousands of dollars worth of XRP, a cryptocurrency championed by Ripple, according to a court filing.
The scammers promise to send back up to 5 million XRP, worth nearly $1 million, but victims who participate in the fake “giveaways” never receive any money in return, said the filing.
Ripple says it wants the case to be a “call to action” for the social media industry to stop their platforms from being overrun by fake accounts and misinformation.
“For every scam, giveaway, fake conspiracy that is taken down, multiple more pop up nearly immediately,” Ripple said in a blog post. “YouTube and other big technology and social media platforms must be held accountable for not implementing sufficient processes for fighting these scams.”
YouTube did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Founded in 2012, Ripple is one of the best known companies that develop so-called blockchain technology, or the system underpinning cryptocurrencies. The company develops blockchain systems to help financial services firms carry out cross-border payments, using XRP.
Its filing, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, says YouTube’s failure to address the “pervasive and injurious fraud” has harmed the reputation of both Ripple and Garlinghouse.
Ripple said millions of people have viewed the scams on YouTube, which enabled the fraud to proliferate by ignoring its demands for the videos to be taken down and continuing to sell ads to the scammers.
YouTube also awarded a “verification badge” to a hacked channel displaying a photo of Garlinghouse as its profile picture, falsely indicating to viewers that the account was legitimate, the filing said.
Reporting by Katie Paul, additional reporting by Anna Irrera; Editing by Steve Orlofsky