Coronavirus: online platforms respond positively to Commission’s call to stop scams and protect consumers

The Commission welcomes the replies of the online platforms Allegro, Amazon, AliExpress, Bing, CDiscount, Ebay, Facebook, Google, Rakuten, Wish and Yahoo to take measures to stop online scams promoting fake products against the virus (face masks, gloves, sanitizers). All of them showed strong commitment and responded positively to the Commission’s call: not only did they put in place specific communication channels to increase cooperation with national consumer authorities, they also detailed the measures taken to address and prevent misleading practices and consumer scams. On 23 March, the Commission alerted the platforms on the most common consumer scams related to the coronavirus crisis. Vice-President Věra Jourová also recalled the obligations of the platforms towards consumers and their protection particularly in the crisis during her call with the major platforms on 27 March. This is a part of a wider EU’s effort to help platforms and other digital players become more responsible and tackle coronavirus related disinformation and consumer fraud. Didier Reynders, Commissioner for Justice, said: “I welcome platforms, social media, marketplaces and search engines’ prompt reaction to my call to build a strong alliance with EU consumer watchdogs. Only together can we effectively block the channels fraudsters use to exploit consumers’ fears caused by the coronavirus crisis. I am pleased to see that strong measures were taken and expect they will be applied consistently through the crisis. I call on all operators to keep them in place until the crisis is over.” Concretely, the recent platforms’ measures help to proactively take down misleading ads and ‘miracle products’ with unsupported health claims. Automated and human monitoring of content are also reinforced. Some platforms have temporarily banned sales or advertising of specific products such as masks or sanitizers. Specific checks are implemented on price increases and promotions. Finally, operators conduct 24/7 monitoring activities or sweeps of content. Earlier this month, the Commission also provided advice to consumers and traders to avoid misleading practices related to the coronavirus pandemic. Those recommendations available in all EU languages and can be found via the ODR platform home page and the national European Consumer Centres (ECCs).