Rachel Smalley. Photo Getty
TV3 presenter Rachel Smalley is on a crusade to remove
photographs of herself and other New Zealand stars from
weight-loss adverts on Facebook that they did not endorse.
But the social networking site has told her that unless she
can prove ownership of her photo, it will not remove it.
The ads, which link to websites for gyms, feature pictures of
Rachel Hunter, Keisha Castle-Hughes, Alison Mau, Petra
Bagust, Jeanette Thomas, Toni Street and Shavaughan Ruakere.
They started appearing last year and the Herald revealed in
December that TVNZ had complained to Facebook.
One of the ads featuring Firstline star Smalley claims she
lost 30kg in five weeks.
Smalley said she first noticed her picture last week. It had
been taken off the Woman's Weekly website alongside an
interview she did with the magazine. She has kept her Twitter
followers up to date over the past 10 days with her battle to
"It's madness," she said. "I'm told we can't do anything
about [it] but there must be a way ... I'm determined!
"FB say they can't see the ad - won't do anything about it.
Grrrr ... It's completely done my head in. I'm going nuts -
and the arrogance of FB is off the charts."
Smalley's series of emails and a phone call to the company
"I also can't believe I'm trying to fix the problem myself,"
"Surprised corporates aren't more prepared for this type of
fraud ... Another email from Facebook. They say unless I can
prove ownership of my photo, they won't remove it from their
advertiser's link ... My crusade continues."
Les Mills and ABSolute Health & Fitness in Dunedin have
been linked to the adverts but deny advertising on Facebook.
NetSafe chief technology officer Sean Lyons said it appeared
dodgy companies were using unsuspecting gyms to attract
clients, before changing the links a week later to websites
which had several pop-ups and were more harmful to your
computer, for more drastic weight-loss measures like "miracle
"There's a bedding-in period ... They initially pointed to
great things, legitimate businesses that had no knowledge of
them, quite clearly. They take a week or so, and I guess that
maybe gets them over the 'are they good ads, are they bad
ads?' - it may be Facebook studying them to see whether they
do what they say.
"A week's worth of Facebook links, clicking through to 'Buy
these miracle berries and transform yourself into Angelina
Jolie overnight' will generate a fair whack of money."
Mr Lyons said anyone could advertise through Facebook by
following simple links and handing over their credit card.
NetSafe had contacted Facebook after the Herald December
story and the company removed several ads.
A man who answered the phone at Facebook's Australasia branch
yesterday said the advertiser usually picked the photographs.
"We can create targeted ads based on a specific target
audience ... When someone joins Facebook, they share a lot of
information about things they enjoy doing. What we do is use
that information to show them ads that are relevant to them."
The Herald was then referred to the media contact, who said:
"We remove all ads that are reported to us that violate our
- Alanah Eriksen of the NZ Herald