Facebook has strict rules forbidding scam ads or misinformation. However, the company rarely goes further than banning users from the platform. But it ramped up the stakes dramatically this week when it filed a lawsuit in federal court against user Basant Gajjar, operating under the alias LeadCloak. Facebook says LeadCloak provided “ad-cloaking” software that allowed fake news and scams to slip through Facebook and Instagram’s automated ad review process. According to the company, some of these scams were related to COVID-19, cryptocurrency, diet pills and more.
“Cloaking is a malicious technique that impairs ad review systems by concealing the nature of the website linked to an ad,” Facebook said in a blog announcing the legal action. “When ads are cloaked, a company’s ad review system may see a website showing an innocuous product such as a sweater, but a user will see a different website, promoting deceptive products and services which, in many cases, are not allowed.”
Additionally, the social media giant said that it is not only taking enforcement measures against LeadCloak, but his customers, too. The company said that it hopes its federal suit will help it identify more of the shady marketers that took advantage of these services.
This feels like a big step for Facebook, and it goes to show how seriously the company is taking the problem of scammers on its platform — particularly in the age of COVID-19. Here’s hoping it discourages other cybercriminals from trying similar schemes.
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