Is Facebook Getting Away with Selling Counterfeit Crap?
The ads on Facebook’s sidebar make it easier to buy clothes, handbags, and jewelry than ever before. Unfortunately, some say they also make it easier to sell knockoffs of name-brand products, even though Facebook officially bans ads for phony merchandise. In October, an NFL-apparel retailer in Albuquerque, New Mexico, brought a lawsuit against Facebook for what it says is the website’s duplicitous inaction when it comes to advertisements for counterfeit jerseys. That lawsuit, which is still being litigated, brought a smile to Eric Feinberg’s face. Eric isn’t directly involved in the case, but he’s the founder of Fans Against Kounterfeit Enterprise (FAKE), a nonprofit organization that aims to wipe out counterfeit jerseys. I called Eric to learn why he cares so much about knock-off sportswear.
VICE: How did you become an activist against counterfeit jerseys?
Eric Feinberg: I was handling social media for my PR clients, who were paying me to create word-of-mouth advertising via photo contests and comments through Facebook. I found that when I posted pictures of specific things, like NFL games, my photos were being tagged by sponsored ads for counterfeit jerseys, which would appear on everyone’s timeline. Facebook targets ads based on your preferences. So how could I, in good faith, handle a client’s social-media marketing when I know that my marketing would appear next to counterfeit ads? And when I would talk to these companies [who were selling legitimate merchandise] about these ads, they didn’t know what I was talking about.