SINGAPORE, March 2 — Meta, the owner of Facebook and Instagram, said yesterday that it is “dismayed” by criticism over its anti-scam efforts by Singapore’s Ministry for Home Affairs (MHA).

In a statement, the technology company said that it is “committed” to working closely with government partners to protect consumers against scams, but added that it alone cannot tackle the “complex, industry-wide” threat.

“We believe in constructive dialogue and have been in close consultations with MHA and are reviewing their suggestions seriously,” it told TODAY.

The company said that this is on top of years of consistent and close collaboration it has with the Singapore Police Force to tackle scams and its role as a member of the National Crime Prevention Council.

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During a debate on MOH’s budget a day before, Sun Xueling, Minister of State for Home Affairs, said that the Singapore government cannot fight the battle of scams alone and would need to count on the cooperation of industry stakeholders.

She said that companies such as Meta are among the most exploited by scammers but are refusing to cooperate and have “consistently pushed back” against MHA’s recommendations.

Noting that Facebook accounted for close to half of e-commerce scam cases last year, Sun said: “I urge Meta to step up and do right by your users.”

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She also said that Meta had resisted MHA’s recommendations for Facebook safeguards such as verifying users against government-issued identification and offering a secure payment option for Facebook Marketplace users.

During her speech, Sun also announced measures to combat scams, including a one-stop portal for all scam-related resources.

This portal is to be launched as the Singapore government studies further measures to better protect unwitting members of the public, including those who refuse to believe that they are being cheated.

Scams continue to be a major concern globally, including in Singapore.

The number of scams and cybercrime cases here soared by 49.6 per cent to 50,376 last year.

“The increase in scam numbers was largely driven by scams using social engineering and deception to manipulate victims into transferring monies,” Ms Sun said, noting that such cases accounted for 92 per cent of scam losses last year.

Examples included job scams, e-commerce, or fake friend call scams, where victims believe in the offers promoted to them or were convinced that the scammer is a friend.

Ms Sun noted that measures to block scam calls and SMSes have been implemented, but scammers have instead turned to social media and messaging platforms to target victims.

Some online businesses have worked well with the authorities to better protect users.

E-commerce sites such as Shopee and Carousell have been willing to work with MHA and the police by strengthening their user verification processes, she added.

However, not all are playing ball.

In its response on Friday, Meta said: “Scams are a complex, industry-wide threat and we recognise that no single solution or company can tackle them alone.”

It added that it has “strict policies” that prohibit malicious activity and enforces these policies through its “proactive review system”.

For example, listings on Facebook and Instagram cannot promote the buying or selling of devices that facilitate or encourage streaming digital content in an unauthorised manner or interfere with the functionality of electronic devices.

“We are committed to continue working closely with government partners on consumer education campaigns and will continue to evolve our products and tools to help people better protect themselves against scams.” — TODAY