Facebook has initiated legal proceedings against a Hong Kong social media company for ‘baiting’ users with photos of celebrities and fake advertising links.
According to Reuters, the social media giant alleges ILikeAd Media International Co used deceptive practices to install malware and run ads for counterfeit goods, diet pills and male enhancement supplements.
The lawsuit, which has been filed in the federal court in San Francisco, seeks unspecified damages.
It singles out ILikeAd’s founders Chen Xiao Cong and Huang Tao for creating the malware and tricking users into installing it.
“Creating real world consequences for those who deceive users and engage in cloaking schemes is important in maintaining the integrity,” Facebook’s director of platform enforcement and litigation Jessica Romero said in a statement.
ILikeAd promoted itself as a “one-stop comprehensive solution to advertisers”, according to court documents.
However, by disguising the content of a link using a technique known as ‘cloaking’, the Hong Kong company was able to run unauthorised ads.
“The defendants sometimes used images of celebrities in their ads to entice people to click on them, a practice known as “celeb bait.” In some instances, the defendants also engaged in a practice known as cloaking,” Romero said.
“Through cloaking, the defendants deliberately disguised the true destination of the link in the ad by displaying one version of an ad’s landing page to Facebook’s systems and a different version to Facebook users.”
Facebook said it had notified hundreds of thousands of users their accounts may have been compromised and it had refunded over $US4 million to customers who had their accounts hijacked by ILikeAd.