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.
“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,” as stated by Facebook in a blog post.
The company in question is Hong Kong-based ILikeAd Media International Company Ltd., which was incorporated in 2016. On its website (ilikead.com, which appears to be down) the company said it provides advertising and marketing services to businesses interested in advertising on Facebook, according to court documents. Facebook also sued Chinese software developer Chen Xiao Cong and marketing director Huang Tao in connection with the scheme.
All three defendants have been alleged to have deceived people into installing malware on their systems, enabling them to compromise user’s Facebook accounts and then using those hacked accounts to advertise counterfeit goods and diet pills—which is clearly in violation of Facebook’s Terms and Advertising Policies
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.
“Cloaking schemes are often sophisticated and well-organized, making the individuals and organizations behind them difficult to identify and hold accountable,”
Facebook, and many other online platforms, are putting in efforts to clean the digital ad ecosystem of malicious and fraudulent activity.