Clothing group calls for Meta inclusion as notorious market

The American Apparel & Footwear Association (AAFA) has once again nominated Facebook owner Meta for listing in this year’s Notorious Markets report drawn up by the US Trade Representative (USTR).

This is the third time that the industry body has called on the USTR to list Meta and its associated platforms Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp as a notorious market due to what it says is the proliferation of fraudulent advertisements and the abundance of counterfeit products available on the platforms.

It cites a 2021 Ghost Data report which studied counterfeiters operating across Meta platforms, finding 26,770 active counterfeiter accounts on Facebook and more than 20,280 active counterfeiter accounts on Instagram within a five-month window.

That report also called WhatsApp "a safe tool for counterfeiters" used more than 76 per cent of the time over other online communication tools.

Also nominated by the industry body for a further time is Singapore-headquartered online shopping company Shoppee "due to the overwhelming volume of counterfeits available…globally" through the platform, says AAFA in its submission to the USTR, which also raises concerns about Alibaba Cloud, Lazada, and Amazon.

"Apparel and footwear brands are spending millions to identify and police malpractices via e-commerce and social media platforms," said Steve Lamar, AAFA's president and chief executive in a statement, which notes that one of the group's members has said  the legal costs in enforcing against counterfeiters is at least at $2m per year.

"Detection processes include waiting days and months for the removal of the illicit products." He added. "Every day it takes to remove a counterfeit product, an illicit seller, a fraudulent ad, or a fake website is another day that unsuspecting American consumers are able to be duped into buying unsafe counterfeit products that could bring harm to themselves and their families."

Earlier this year, AAFA released the results of a study conducted with Intertek, a highly respected international total quality assurance provider, to test counterfeit products for a range of hazardous chemicals and heavy metals.

The study found that 36 per cent of the products tested failed to comply with US product safety standards, including dangerous levels of arsenic, cadmium, phthalates, lead, and more that have been shown to cause adverse health outcomes.

Photo by Dima Solomin on Unsplash

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