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Duo hosting scam ads!

How and where (apart from here) do I report this?

I keep seeing ads for a scheme called Bitcoin Trader, which falsely claim it is endorsed by trusted UK consumer advocate, Martin Lewis. They even say he recommends ditching more conventional investments, and doing this instead.


Martin declares himself sickened by this unauthorised use of his name to promote a scam. https://blog.moneysavingexpert.com/2018/03/martin-lewis-spread-word-dont-believe-scam-bitcoin-code-bitcoin-trading-ads/

It is damaging to the reputation of Duolingo to be hosting ads like this.

It's particularly distasteful as this is an educational website, which attracts a lot of young people. If they see it here, they're going to assume it's safe, and has been vetted.

To protect vulnerable individuals, AND the reputation of Duolingo, can we get this rubbish removed?

July 18, 2019



Please report this to abuse (see How do I report an ad?).


There was also someone claiming to be a hacker, who would "do stuff" for you. This came in the form of a Duo email.


It is the curse of GoogleAds. Google helps a site with revenue and services, then sits back and puts the pressure on when an organisation becomes complacent and dependent upon Google.

Google can easily stop inappropriate ads without losing ad revenue, but they choose not to, preferring to use it as a lever over the host organisation.

It is quite deliberate, and tantamount to a protection racket.


Google can easily stop inappropriate ads without losing ad revenue, but they choose not to

Google vets ads using AI. The sheer scale of Google ads is enormous; I doubt that Google could switch to using humans to do this even if it wanted to—this would simply require an infeasibly-huge number of extra employees. The vetting AI doesn't let scams through because it has been purposely designed to do so, but because the scammers are forever finding new ways to get past it. As they continue doing this, so the AI will gradually improve.

I am no fan of Google whatsoever, but there is no conspiracy on Google's part to allow scamming advertisements, thus tarnishing the reputation of the most important part of its business model.


Duo has limited control about which adverts are displayed. I believe that is GoogleAdds which provide them so all you can do is to inform Duo in a bug report and hope they are able to stop the ad.

Meanwhile, you could keep repeating this warning on these forums and hope no one gets scammed by them.


Haha - it may already have got pulled - albeit not by Duolingo. I just saw it again, and clicked through, but now it no longer leads to the fake Martin Lewis endorsements, or to any mention of the product, but just goes to the ad agency's home site. So somebody has made them take it down? It's still appearing here, but the immediate danger is removed, as clicking doesn't lead to the scambait anymore.


Although I can understand your reaction and in no way endorse the way this ad abuses somebody’s good reputation, false advertising is all around us. Actually, most advertising contains some unproven statements or outright lies. Everyone exposed to advertisment (i.e. all of us) needs to be aware of that and not trust any ad or buy any advertised product without doing their homework.

And regarding children/young people using DL: They would not have the money or the interest in investment schemes.

Any responsible parent/guardian/teacher should teach children and young adults to not believe anything an ad says, how to do online research in order to verify certain statements (e.g. consumer reports/reviews) and/or how to identify reliable sources, and best to ignore ads.

I personally don’t see it as Duolingo’s responsibility to vet ads. Of anything, it should be the responsibility of the source providing the ads. It is great that DL offers the option to report unsuitable ads. But the ads on DL are only a fraction of advertising each of us is exposed to every day. So ultimately, it’s our own responsibility to choose how we interact with ads and to teach others how to do so.


If you click on the triangle next to the "X" on the ad (website) you will see that it is provided by google. This also offers you the option of "stop seeing this ad". The other option is "why this ad". That will give you the option to report it as a "bad ad"


(I only very rarely use the website ; this is based on other systems I use more often.) Most likely that information - along with sufficient personal information (email, user name, IP address ; the details depend on Duolingo's contract with Google or whoever) is sent to Google, who update their profile of you, not what they send to other Duolingo users. Duo probably don't see the fact that you've objected to an advert.


good to know :)

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