Facebook says  ad company tricked users into downloading malware

Facebook sues Chinese ad company for using celebrity photos to bait users into installing malware that hijacks profiles and place phony ads

  • Facebook has sued a Chinese ad company for proliferating malware
  • ILikeAd allgedly used malware to access ‘ accounts and place misleading ads 
  • The malware was disguised in links to celebrity photos 
  • Users were often unaware that their account had been compromised 
  • Facebook said it began notifying people affected in April 

Facebook is suing a Hong Kong company that it claims tricked people into downloading malware using baited celebrity photos. 

The social giant claims ILikeAd Media International developer Chen Xiao Cong and marketer, Huang Tao, used improper ‘celeb bait’ and ‘cloaking’ practices since at least 2016 to fool users.

‘Cloaking’ involves disguising the content of a link by displaying one version of that content to Facebook and another version to users. 

Facebook is suing the company for violations of its policies and for using malware to exploit accounts of its users. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg (pictured above) has contended with various privacy scandals throughout the last two years 

Specifically, Facebook says ILikeAd tricked them into clicking on celebrities’ photos and bogus advertising links, so it could install malware.

Once downloaded, Facebook said the malware enabled defendants to hijack users’ ad accounts, and run ads for counterfeit goods, diet pills and male enhancement supplements.

Facebook also said this kind of lawsuit is rare, and that it has notified hundreds of thousands of affected users since April that their accounts may have been compromised.

Facebook said it has also issued more than $4 million in refunds to customers whose accounts were used by ILikeAd to run unauthorized ads.

‘Creating real world consequences for those who deceive users and engage in cloaking schemes is important in maintaining the integrity,’ Jessica Romero, Facebook’s director of platform enforcement and litigation, said in a statement.

Facebook has worked to crack down on scams and data privacy scandals amid pressure from regulators and lawmakers

According to the complaint, ILikeAd promoted itself as a ‘one-stop comprehensive solution to advertisers’ hoping to market their wares on Facebook.

Scams like the one run be ILikeAd have become a major problem on Facebook and have been employed on the platform with disconcerting success.

A report from Buzfeed News revealed that one operation used compromised user accounts to run more than $50 million worth of deceptive advertising on the platform over the course of three years. 

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