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Facebook is taking legal action against LeadCloak for using cloaking to re-direct ads

Facebook has filed new lawsuit over violation of its terms and conditions, this time taking aim at a company called 'LeadCloak' and its use of ad 'cloaking' to re-direct user actions.

As explained by Facebook:

"Cloaking is a malicious technique that impairs ad review systems by concealing the nature of the website linked to an ad. 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."

Facebook's Integrity Team Lead Rob Leathern provided this video overview of how cloaking works for more context:

Among various violations, Facebook says that LeadCloak's software has been used to conceal websites featuring scams related to COVID-19, cryptocurrency, pharmaceuticals, diet pills, and fake news pages. Some of these cloaked websites also included images of celebrities.

It's the latest in Facebook's increasing legal action against companies that violate its terms - over the past year, Facebook has initiated legal proceedings against:

  • Two different app developers over 'click injection fraud', which simulates clicks in order to extract ad revenue

  • Two companies over the creation of malware, and tricking Facebook users into installing it in order to steal personal information

  • An organization which had registered various domain names which, Facebook claims, were intended to deceive people by pretending to be affiliated with Facebook apps via scams like emails that ask users to log-in to correct an error

These types of scams have been problematic for a long time, but Facebook is now taking up official, legal recourse to stop them, which could help to establish precedents that Facebook can then refer to in future proceedings.

Essentially, Facebook's taking a harder stance against such scams. After the controversy of Cambridge Analytica, Facebook's not taking any more chances, and if it can extract bigger penalties for such violations, it can also use those as a warning to others who may be looking to attempt the same.

In the past, scammers could get away with platform bans, but increasingly, Facebook's looking to take things further - which should, hopefully, act as a deterrent as well as a case-by-case improvement.

Such proceedings can take time, but it'll be interesting to see what results Facebook sees in each case, and how they relate to future efforts to combat the same.

In addition, Facebook says that its also looking to work with other digital platforms to share learnings, and address the same issues within the broader industry. 

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