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Facebook files lawsuit against Hong Kong firm using ads to mislead its users

Facebook has filed a suit against Hong Kong-based ILikeAd Media International Company Ltd. and individuals Chen Xiao Cong and Huang Tao for using its ads to deceive people into installing malware.

According to a post from Facebook’s platform enforcement team, the company and the individuals violated its terms and policies around advertising. 

More specifically, it used deceptive tactics to get people to click on ads and download malware, according to Facebook. The malware then allows the company access to people’s Facebook accounts (the level to which accounts were compromised isn’t clear), in order to promote counterfeit goods and diet pills.

The ads used tactics including ‘celeb bait’ in which it used images of celebrities to encourage people to click on the ads. They also used ‘cloaking’, which meant that it showed one version of a landing page to Facebook’s systems and another to the user once they clicked through.

In the post, written by Jessica Romero, director of platform enforcement and litigation and Rob Leathern, director of product management, business integrity at Facebook, explained its policy and action around advertisers that adopt cloaking.

“Cloaking schemes are often sophisticated and well organized, making the individuals and organizations behind them difficult to identify and hold accountable. As a result, there have not been many legal actions of this kind. In this case, we have refunded victims whose accounts were used to run unauthorized ads and helped them to secure their accounts.

To protect Facebook users and disrupt these types of schemes, we will continue our work to detect malicious behavior directed towards our platform and enforce against violations of our Terms and Policies. Creating real-world consequences for those who deceive users and engage in cloaking schemes is important in maintaining the integrity of our platform,” it read.

Facebook, and many other online platforms, are taking on efforts to clean the digital ad ecosystem of fraudulent activity, as well as launching new efforts to pacify nervous advertisers around brand safety issues.

Featured by The Drum

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