Apple Co-founder Steve Wozniak sued video-sharing site YouTube and its parent Google for not shutting down cryptocurrency scams that use his name and likeness on the platform.
Wozniak, together with 17 other plaintiffs seek a trial by a jury, along with payments for damages, and the removal of all Bitcoin giveaway scams that promote their names and likeness which continue to flood the largest video platform.
The Apple co-founder said YouTube failed to do its part in protecting its users against scams, noting that the BTC scams are allowed to do live streams and even do paid promotions on the network. In a court document , Wozniak revealed that he tried to get YouTube to stop the BTC scams that used his name. “But YouTube has been unresponsive,” he said.
YouTube’s refusal to take action to stop the Bitcoin giveaway scams caused irreparable damage to the plaintiffs’ reputation while YouTube users were defrauded of millions of dollars, the court document stated.
“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?” Wozniak said after filing the complaint.
“The allegations paint a picture of an algorithm-driven tech giant that does not respond to victims and that YouTube has allowed scammers to use me, Bill Gates, Elon Musk and others to defraud innocent people out of their cryptocurrency,” Wozniak said in a statement to the San Francisco Chronicle .
The lawsuit compared YouTube’s handling of BTC giveaway scams to the immediate action Twitter took last week, when Twitter accounts of high profile figures like Joe Biden, Elon Musk, and Bill Gates were hacked and BTC giveaway scam messages were posted on the compromised accounts. Twitter immediately shut down the hijack accounts, stopped the posting of Bitcoin addresses, and other actions to regain control of the situation.
Because of this, the plaintiffs said, the Twitter hack only resulted in around $120,000 in losses, compared to millions of dollars stolen from YouTube-related BTC scams.
The plaintiffs said the BTC scammers’ use of YouTube promotions means the platform takes some revenue from the illegal scheme while making the scam more visible to users.
In BTC giveaway scams, users are enticed to send BTC to a specific Bitcoin address with a promise to return double the amount sent.
In June 2020, scammers ran a fake SpaceX live stream that also showed a QR code where “viewers” can send Bitcoins to receive more Bitcoins in return. The scammers said it was in celebration of SpaceX historic launch.
Brad Garlinghouse, the CEO of Ripple, also sued YouTube for XRP giveaway scams that use his likeness for promotion. Garlinghouse said YouTube continued its negligence which resulted in millions of XRP being defrauded from YouTube users and damage to his and Ripple’s reputation.