Cellist Zoe Keating Got Defrauded on Facebook — So Why Isn’t Facebook Investigating?

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Photo of Zoë Keating by Jo Trek (Courtesy of Zoë Keating)

The Artist Rights Alliance (ARA) is calling on the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate Facebook’s alleged failure to stop a livestream scam involving the name and image of cellist Zoe Keating.

ARA higher-ups recently sent a letter asking government officials – also including the attorney generals in California, where Facebook is headquartered, and Keating’s home state of Vermont – to investigate the social media giant. Additionally, the non-profit advocacy organization formally detailed the inquiry this morning, in a release that was shared with Digital Music News.

According to this message, Zoe Keating had been set to play an August 30th concert at Portland’s Aladdin Theater. But owing to the COVID-19 pandemic and its associated lockdown measures, the Ontario-born composer and cellist canceled the gig – and more than a few others – “several months ago.”

On the Sunday that the show was originally scheduled to take place, however, “a party unknown to Ms. Keating” began encouraging fans (through Facebook) to enjoy a livestream edition of the concert – despite the fact that Keating hadn’t organized the remote happening or agreed to perform on the date. Utilizing the 48-year-old musician’s “name and photograph,” the fraudster (billed as “Fun Chanel”) prompted the platform’s users to view the unauthorized “livestream” on a website with a Mali (.ml) domain-name ending.

Upon “immediately” reporting the fraudulent concert listing and livestream link, Zoe Keating was allegedly told by a Facebook employee that they didn’t “go against any one of our specific community standards.” Additionally, Facebook purportedly informed Keating that she could “change her settings” if the advertisement proved “bothersome” – or simply block it altogether.

In spite of Keating’s moving quickly to bring down the criminal’s falsified-livestream operation, though, the Artist Rights Alliance said that the impersonation effort carried on “for weeks” after the fact. “No one other than the company knows how many people were victimized, robbed, or phished,” wrote the ARA.

Facebook hasn’t publicly responded to the potential investigation. CEO Mark Zuckerberg – along with Twitter head Jack Dorsey and Google CEO Sundar Pichai – concluded their latest congressional testimony, about the Communications Decency Act’s Section 230, moments ago. All three of the platform’s stock prices were down approximately five percent on the day at the time of this writing.

2020 has also seen Menlo Park, California-based Facebook make several noteworthy moves in the music space. In late July, higher-ups formally unveiled licensed music videos, and major label streaming licenses arrived about six weeks thereafter.

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