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Steve Wozniak sues YouTube, Google over Bitcoin scam videos

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak is suing YouTube and Google for videos on their platform that use his likeness in cryptocurrency giveaway scams. 

In a lawsuit filed in the Superior Court of California on Tuesday, Wozniak claims that the videos used his likeness without his permission. He and 17 others are suing YouTube and its parent company, Google, over the video scams. 

“As a result of defendants’ egregious failures to act and affirmative misconduct in promoting this criminal enterprise, plaintiff Wozniak has suffered, and continues to suffer, irreparable harm to his reputation, and YouTube users, including plaintiffs, have been defrauded out of millions of dollars,” the filing reads.

Gage Skidmore/Flickr

The lawsuit alleges that YouTube has “refused or failed” to take the scam videos down from the platform and even provided paid advertising to the videos. The filing includes screenshots of several separate YouTube videos that show Wozniak’s face attached to a 5,000 Bitcoin giveaway. 

YouTube does have tools that users can use to report channels or videos that are impersonating their likeness and removed 2.2. million videos for violating its spam policies in the the first three months of 2020 alone.

“We take abuse of our platform seriously, and take action quickly when we detect violations of our policies, such as scams or impersonation,” a YouTube spokesperson said in regards to the lawsuit.

Digital Trends also reached out to Wozniak’s team to comment on the lawsuit. We will update this story when we hear back. 

The filing comes one week after Twitter experienced a similar Bitcoin scam where celebrities, billionaires, and companies apparently posted messages offering anyone thousands of dollars worth of cryptocurrency. 

Twitter looked into the situation within an hour after the fake tweets began and eventually locked all verified accounts for two hours as a precautionary measure. The company said it believes the hack had been made possible by tricking one or more of its employees who had access to Twitter’s internal systems and tools.

Tuesday’s filing said that Twitter acted “swiftly and decisively” in shutting down crypto giveaway hacks and said that YouTube “has been unapologetically hosting, promoting, and directly profiting from similar scams.” 

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