In the instant case, Tribhuvan v. Facebook India Online Services Pvt. Ltd., Complaint No.:
CC/117/2020, decided on 30-06-2022 that the Complainant had suffered financial loss due to
a misleading advertisement he saw on Facebook.
The complainant, an active user of Facebook came across an advertisement on his Facebook
wall from Marya Studio, offering shoes from Nike Company for Rs 599/-. As the
advertisement was on Facebook, the complainant did not doubt its authenticity &
immediately placed the order and made the payment through his Debit card. After making
payment, the complainant waited for some time to receive order confirmation but did not
receive any text or call regarding the same. He decided to reach out to customer care but did
not find any contact details of Marya Studio on Facebook. Therefore, he googled the Marya
Studio’s customer care and as a result, he landed on the website called
www.consumersathi.com. There he found 4-5 numbers of Marya Studio’s Customer Care.
The complainant called one of the numbers & the person receiving the call introduced
himself to Marya Studio’s customer care executive. The person sent a link to the complainant
& asked him to follow a few steps in order to initiate the refund process. The complainant did
as he was instructed and also provided OTP and was duped for Rs 7568/-.
Thereafter, the complainant tried to bring this fraud to the notice of Facebook via Twitter &
email but Facebook never replied. Therefore, the complainant was constrained to file a
consumer case with the District Commission, Gondia, against Facebook.
Sagar J. Chavhan, Advocate, for the Complainant, argued that Facebook deliberately flickers
false & misleading advertisements causing losses to the general public. He also pointed out
the names of many fake pages on Facebook & mentioned other victims of Fake
Per Contra, M. B. Ramteke, Advocate, for Facebook/ Meta submitted that the present
complaint is not tenable as the Complainant here is not the “Consumer” of Facebook. It was
submitted that Facebook is only the intermediary and not liable under IT Act, 2000 and
therefore not the correct entity for adjudicating this Complaint. Further, Meta submitted that
it has taken reasonable steps to enforce policies that will enable users to report violations.
The Commission bench of Bhaskar B. Yogi (President) and Sarita B. Raipure (Member)
made the following observations:
On the contentions made by Facebook on the maintainability of the complaint, the
Commission pointed out that Facebook earns mainly from selling spaces for
advertising. Since the complainant here had purchased shoes & paid Rs 599/- the
commission pointed out that the complainant had paid consideration for service from
Facebook by purchasing the shoes online. Thus, the commission noted that the
complainant falls under the category of “Consumer”.
Next, the Commission observed that although the complainant had suffered financial
loss, to what extent Facebook was bound to compensate. The Bench noted that the
complainant had paid Rs 599/- based on a misleading advertisement but the second
transaction of Rs 7568/- was due to his own lack of awareness about online scams.
Hence, it can be termed as contributory negligence and therefore opposite parties
cannot be held liable for this transaction.
Lastly, the commission observed that the Government of India has taken steps toward
keeping a tab on online fraud. It was noted that the law provides a clear mandate of
compliance for social media websites. It was also observed that the complainant was
persuaded by the rate of the shoes & stated that the opposite parties failed to
safeguard and protect the Indian consumers from exploitation.
Based on the facts & contentions presented in the case, the Commission allowed the
complaint partly and made the following directions:
The opposite parties to reimburse the price of shoes not delivered i.e., Rs 599/- and
pay Rs 25000/- towards mental agony and legal costs suffered by the Complainant.
Facebook/Meta to comply with the Consumer Protection (e-commerce) Rules,
2020 in letter and spirit and submit the report of compliance within a period of 45
days to this Commission.
Facebook and Meta Inc. are directed to run scam-related awareness advertisements on
various media, social sites, TV, and OTT platforms to create awareness regarding
various scams on regular basis to neutralize the impact of misleading advertisements.