Woz sues YouTube over scam video

By

Steve Wozniak
Steve Wozniak's likeness was used in a video to scam people out of Bitcoin.
Photo: The DEMO Conference/Flickr CC

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak is suing YouTube for allegedly failing to remove a video in which his likeness was used by thieves to scam people out of money.

Woz was among a group of individuals who were fraudulently featured in videos posted to YouTube, supposedly offering a live giveaway of bitcoins. The video suggested that anyone who sent him bitcoins would receive double the number back. Of course, when people did transfer the funds, they inevitably got nothing in return.

Wozniak scam on YouTube

The Wozniak scam incident is reminiscent of a recent incident in which high profile accounts, including Apple’s, were hacked and used to scam followers.

YouTube, like other internet platforms, is protected by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. This means that platforms, with a few criminal exceptions, are not held accountable for the material they host. It means that, for instance, a person could post a defamatory video on YouTube and YouTube itself could not be sued for the views contained in that video.

However, Woz’s lawsuit say that YouTube did not remove the videos in a timely manner. “YouTube has been unapologetically hosting, promoting, and directly profiting from similar scams,” reads comments attributed to Woz, published in Bloomberg. Along with Woz, 17 other victims of the scam are also involved in the suit.

The people who brought the suit want YouTube to remove the videos and warn users about fraudulent giveaways. They’re also asking for compensatory and punitive damages.

Steve Wozniak’s Apple career

Wozniak co-founded Apple with Steve Jobs and Ronald Wayne in 1976. Wozniak’s biggest contributions to Apple were the Apple-1 computer and Apple II product line, alongside devices like the Disk II disk drive. Woz left Apple full-time in 1985, the same year Steve Jobs was booted out of the company. He returned a couple of times after that, and remains an Apple employee. But most of his work since then has been outside Apple.

Today, Woz works with smaller tech companies. He also speaks at many events around the world. Despite his biggest tech contributions being 40 years ago, he remains a respected — and trusted — member of the tech community.