Facebook is taking legal action against a company which used Facebook posts and ads to trick users into downloading malware, in order to steal their personal information.
As explained by Facebook:
"The defendants deceived people into installing malware available on the internet. This malware then enabled the defendants to compromise people’s Facebook accounts and run deceptive ads promoting items such as counterfeit goods and diet pills."
Facebook's filing implies that ILikeAd Media International Company Ltd. aimed to trick people into installing such malware by using 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. 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."
The case is just the latest in Facebook's increasing legal action against platform misuse. Back in March, Facebook filed suit against several companies over the sale of fake followers and likes, following a ruling by New York's Attorney General that selling fake social media followers and likes is essentially illegal. In August, Facebook launched another set of legal proceedings against two app developers over 'click injection fraud', which simulates clicks in order to extract ad revenue.
Facebook's increase in legal action over specific, on-platform practices like these underlines the growing importance of social media in the broader business space. Up till now, such processes have been largely left out of legal consideration because they're isolated and difficult to enforce - but with so much at stake in the digital marketing sector, Facebook, and others, are looking to establish precedents to map out more clear legal boundaries.
And that can only be a good thing for the digital marketing sector. Digital fakes and frauds like this cloud the available metrics, which can be especially important in practices like influencer marketing, where buying fakes can inflate your perceived level of sway in certain spaces.
If Facebook can use such filings to help establish more clear cut legal boundaries, and penalties, that will act as a significant deterrent to such practices.
Scammers will always find new ways to cheat, but setting stronger stances against such is key in improving the integrity of the sector.