Consumer Issues
Google, Facebook, Twitter and AOL team up to fight deceptive web ads

Google, Facebook, Twitter, and AOL have launched to protect consumers from deceptive advertising on the internet

Google, Facebook, Twitter, and AOL on Thursday announced the launch of, a new organization aimed at protecting consumers from deceptive advertising on the web. Through the organization, the companies will issue reports on trends in deceptive online ads and seek consumers’ help in halting bad ads. also released Thursday its first bad-ad trend report on tech-support advertising scams, which included examples of deceptive tech-support ads found on Facebook and Google. The ads sent consumers to landing pages for companies claiming to offer tech support. Once on the landing page, the companies would ask consumers to download malware posing as special tech-support software.

In researching the tech-support scam, Google and Facebook removed over 4,000 suspicious advertiser accounts. Google removed 350 million bad ads from its systems in 2013, after pulling 224 million the year before. represents the four companies’ second foray into the battle against deceptive ads. The four joined forces with the Interactive Advertising Bureau in 2012 to form the more tech-focused Ads Integrity Alliance, later joined by Yahoo, Microsoft, and the BBB. But the companies shut down the Ads Integrity Alliance last year due to “a lack of consumer outreach,” reported AdWeek.

Consumer advocates have criticized Google for not doing enough to identify and remove ads promoting illegal activities.

Last month, Google started removing deceptive abortion services ads from its web searches. The ads that that came up in web searches for abortion centers that actually do not provide the procedure and instead try to dissuade women from terminating their pregnancies.

The move comes after an investigation by NARAL Pro-Choice America that found that Google searches for “abortion clinic” showed ads almost 80 percent of the time that were funded by anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers.

“Anyone looking for abortion services should be able to depend on their search engines to provide them with accurate resources,’’ NARAL President Ilyse Hogue said in a statement. “Google’s leadership in removing the majority of these ads is a victory for truth in advertising and for the women who have been targeted by a deliberate misinformation campaign by crisis pregnancy centers.”

Google’s advertising policy states:

Advertising can be informative, entertaining, metaphorical, or even tell a story. However, any factual claims and offers should always be credible and accurate. Misleading, inaccurate, and deceitful ads hurt everyone – users, publishers, developers, and advertisers.

Google said it is only removing pregnancy-center ads that are deceptive.

NARAL has found that while some crisis pregnancy centers provide appropriate support to women facing unintended pregnancies, others intentionally misinform and mislead women about abortion alternatives.

A 2004 congressional investigation also found that 87 percent of pregnancy centers contacted provided false or misleading information about the health effects of abortion.

Several cities have tried to enact laws to require crisis pregnancy centers to reveal exactly what services they actually offer but have had to battle First Amendment issues raised by the centers in court.



Auto industry begins FY15 with declining sales in most segments

Except two wheelers, all other segments like cars, CVs, LCVs reported a fall in sales during April, says SIAM

The auto industry begin FY15 with declining sales in most segments during April, says Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM).


According to the data released by SIAM, in April sales of passenger vehicles, including cars, vans and utility vehicles fell 9.5%. Within the passenger vehicles, sales of cars and vans fell 10.15% and 27.04%, respectively, while utility vehicles registered marginal (0.27%) higher sales, compared with same month last year. Car sales declined to 1.35 lakh units in April as compared to 1.50 lakh units in the year-ago month.

The overall commercial vehicles segment registered a de-growth of 24% to 43,080 units in April 2014 as compared to same month last year. Medium and heavy commercial vehicles (M&HCVs) sales fell 17.1% and light commercial vehicles (LCV) also dropped by 27.37%, SIAM said.


Two wheelers, however reported higher sales in April. Total two-wheeler sales in April grew 11.7% to 13.04 lakh units as against 11.7 lakh units in the same month last year. During the month, scooters, motorcycles and moped sales rose 26.1%, 8.1% and 0.23%, respectively over April 2013.


Supreme Court asks CBI to probe Saradha, other Ponzi scams

The Supreme Court also asked CBI to look into any other ponzi scheme involved in chit fund scam in West Bengal, Odisha, Assam and Tripura

In a major setback to Mamata Banerjee-led West Bengal (WB) government, the Supreme Court in Friday handed over the multi-crore Saradha scam investigation to Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).


"The (WB) state police has not been able to make any headway in the conspiracy angle, money trail and the seizure of the properties related to the scam," a bench headed by Justice TS Thakur said.


The West Bengal government, all through the hearing of the matter, had strongly resisted the plea for handing over the investigation to the CBI.


The apex court also asked CBI to look into any other ponzi scheme involved in chit fund scam in West Bengal, Odisha, Assam and Tripura.


Earlier in February, Saradha Group chairperson Sudipta Sen was sentenced to three years in jail by a court in Kolkata after he confessed to flouting provident fund guidelines.


Widening its probe into the multi-crore Saradha chit fund scam, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) last month issued summons to numerous entities even as it attached assets worth Rs140 crore of individuals and firms on money laundering charges. The notices came in the backdrop of ED attaching Rs105.62 crore assets of various entities involved in the case including Saradha Director Sudipta Sen and his wife Piyali. ED had attached Rs34 crore worth of assets earlier in the same probe.


Amid growing public outrage over an allegedly fraudulent investment scheme run by the Saradha group, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) also begun a fresh probe into the fund-raising activities of the Kolkata-based entity.


Besides fuelling huge protests in West Bengal and other states by investors and agents, an alleged chit fund scam by Saradha group had even snow-balled into a political controversy with various parties blaming each other for not taking enough steps to rein in fraudulent deposit-taking activities.


West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee too had announced a high-level inquiry and also a SIT probe into the collapse of chit fund company of Saradha Group, which was said to have left thousands of investors in the lurch.


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