Steve Wozniak Joins Ripple in Suing YouTube for Giveaway Scams

By Abhimanyu Krishnan | News | 23 Jul 2020

Apple co-founder and technology entrepreneur Steve Wozniak has filed a lawsuit against YouTube for giveaway scams, according to an announcement by law firm Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy, LLP published on July 22. The complaint also notes that similar scams with images of Bill Gates and Elon Musk exist.

Wozniak is accompanied by 17 individuals, from several different countries, who have fallen victim to the scam. The scammers used images and videos of Wozniak in the scam to attract unwary users to “Bitcoin giveaway” events. These users were told to transfer Bitcoin, for which they would receive twice as much in return. 

YouTube and Google have reportedly ignored repeated requests to take the scam videos down, the firm states, and in turn failed to protect users and directly profited from the videos through targeted advertising.

Wozniak’s response in the complaint is damning, saying that it was imperative that YouTube acted to stop crimes,

If YouTube had acted quickly to stop this to a reasonable extent, we would not be here now. YouTube, like Google, seems to rely on algorithms and no special effort requiring custom software employed quickly in these cases of criminal activity. If a crime is being committed, you MUST be able to reach humans capable of stopping it. What human would see posts like these and not ban them as criminal immediately?

Scams continue to persist in the market. It has once again become a major talking point following the hack on Twitter that saw numerous high-profile individuals targeted. The hackers then tweeted links to Bitcoin addresses. While exchanges have worked to block the stolen funds, which amounted to a comparatively small sum of approximately $130,000, scams continue to a pain point for the industry.

One of the lawyers representing Wozniak and the victims referred to the Twitter hack, pointing out that Twitter was able to stop the scam in a day, while scam videos on YouTube continue to be viewable.

YouTube is facing another lawsuit from Ripple for similar scams. It is defending itself in the lawsuit by saying that it was not liable for the content produced by third parties. It cited Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects content platforms from information provided by third parties.

Like in the case of Wozniak, XRP giveaway scams have involved malicious actors impersonating Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse to lure unsuspecting users. Ripple discovered over 300 such scams and officially filed the lawsuit in April 2020. The arguments made by Wozniak and his legal team are similar to those of Ripple’s. 

Ripple has asked YouTube to take a more aggressive and proactive approach when it comes to scams, and to ensure that no one profits from the videos.

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Abhimanyu Krishnan
Abhimanyu Krishnan

Technophile, cryptocurrency enthusiast and journalist.


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