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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Artist Rights Alliance, a non-profit advocating for music creators, has sent a letter to the Justice Department, the Federal Trade Commission and the state Attorneys General of Vermont and California, calling for an investigation into Facebook for refusing to take action on a fraudulent concert on its platform.

Details: The letter, obtained by Axios, asks policymakers to investigate Facebook for "participating in a scheme to defraud cellist Zoe Keating, an unknown number of her fans, and undoubtedly thousands of other working artists."

  • The group, which co-signed the letter with other artist-rights groups like Advocating Against Romance Scammers, Alliance to Counter Crime Online, Freedom from Facebook and Google and Public Citizen, says that Keating was supposed to perform a concert on August 30th, but due to the pandemic the concert was cancelled several months ago.
  • Still, someone reportedly impersonated the artist on Facebook, selling access to a livestream of a fake concert, and Facebook reused to take action on the fraudulent post, the group says.
  • Axios has reached out to Facebook for comment.

The big picture: The issue of music copyright on Facebook and other big platforms has long been an issue.

  • Case-in-point: A group of music organizations recently slammed Amazon-owned Twitch in a letter claiming that the group has "failed to to secure proper synch and mechanical licenses for its recently launched Soundtrack tool," per Variety. Twitch disputes the claim.
  • Yes, but: This claim is more about false commercialization, an issue that's closely aligned with fake news. That's typically something the FTC handles.

Go deeper

App rush: Talent over trash

Data: Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University. Chart: Michelle McGhee/Axios

Amid the sea of pollution on social media, another class of apps is soaring in popularity: The creators are paid, putting a premium on talent instead of just noise.

The big picture: Creator-economy platforms like Patreon, Substack and OnlyFans are built around content makers who are paid. It's a contrast to platforms like Facebook that are mostly powered by everyday users’ unpaid posts and interactions.

Jan 28, 2021 - Technology

Facebook Oversight Board overturns 4 of its 5 first cases

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Facebook's independent Oversight Board published its first set of decisions Thursday, overturning four of the five cases it chose to review out of 20,000 cases submitted.

Why it matters: The decision to go against Facebook's conclusions in four out of five instances gives legitimacy to the board, which is funded via a $130 million grant from Facebook.

Jan 29, 2021 - Technology

Facebook developing a tool to help advertisers avoid bad news

Photo Illustration: Avishek Das/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Facebook on Friday said it's testing new advertiser "topic exclusion controls" to help address concerns marketers may have that their ads are appearing next to topics in Facebook's News Feed that they consider bad for their brand.  

Why it matters: As Axios has previously noted, the chaotic nature of the modern news cycle and digital advertising landscape has made it nearly impossible for brands to run ads against quality content in an automated fashion without encountering bad content.