Facebook is being sued for defamation by an entrepreneur over fake ads

A British businessman is to sue Facebook for defamation, claiming that it published more than 50 fake adverts using his name or picture.

Martin Lewis, who founded consumer website MoneySavingExpert.com, said the ads were by scammers running "get rich quick" schemes, with titles such as "Bitcoin code" or "Cloud trader."

Some of the ads linked to websites that mimicked the look of the BBC or U.K. newspaper the Daily Mirror, with headlines such as "Martin Lewis lends a hand to British families with revolutionary Bitcoin home-based opportunity." The social network banned adverts for cryptocurrencies including bitcoin in January.

Lewis wants Facebook to take responsibility for the adverts it runs online. "It claims to be a platform not a publisher — yet this isn't just a post on a web forum, it is being paid to publish, promulgate and promote what are often fraudulent enterprises. My hope is this lawsuit will force it to change its system. Nothing else has worked. People need protection," Lewis said in a blog post Monday.

Martin Lewis, the founder of Money Saving Expert
Yui Mok | Getty Images
Martin Lewis, the founder of Money Saving Expert

He added that Facebook's facial recognition technology should help it find misleading ads. "I don't do adverts. I've told Facebook that. Any ad with my picture or name in is without my permission. I've asked it not to publish them, or at least to check their legitimacy with me before publishing. This shouldn't be difficult — after all, it's a leader in face and text recognition. Yet it simply continues to repeatedly publish these adverts and then relies on me to report them," he wrote.

Facebook's policies state that adverts "must not contain deceptive, false or misleading content, including deceptive claims, offers or business practices." It said in an emailed statement that it had been in contact with Lewis.

"We do not allow adverts which are misleading or false on Facebook and have explained to Martin Lewis that he should report any adverts that infringe his rights and they will be removed," a Facebook spokesperson said in an email to CNBC.

"We are in direct contact with his team, offering to help and promptly investigating their requests, and only last week confirmed that several adverts and accounts that violated our advertising policies had been taken down."

Lewis said he will pay any money won to anti-scam charities.