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Facebook Sues Indian Techie over Deceptive ads

Facebook has filed a lawsuit against Thailand based Indian techie for running fake ads and spreading misinformation about coronavirus on its social media platforms. The lawsuit, filed in a California court, alleges that Indian techie’s software company ‘LeadCloak’ used a malicious technique called ‘ad cloaking’ to bypass its stringent ad review process. The name of the Indian techie has been identified as Basant Gajjar.

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According to the lawsuit, LeadCloak used advertisements as baits to push users to click on malicious links that took them to websites that were completely non-relevant to the actual ads. Many of these landing websites allegedly ran scams pertaining to drugs, diet pills and cryptocurrency related investments.

The Facebook lawsuit further claimed that LeadCloak also used the ad clocking technology to target other well-known technology companies like Google, WordPress, and Shopify. The social media giant has likewise accused that the accused company also recommended its clients to block Google and Facebook’s IP addresses; this could have eventually helped the company in bypassing the strict policies around non-compliant landing pages.

What is ad cloaking?

Ad cloaking is not a new technique but is a relatively old technique used by seasoned online marketers.  Ad cloaking is essentially a technique used to push search engine bots and browsers to completely non-relevant and deceptive landing pages.

Several online marketers use this controversial technique, which is operated with the help of a software, to sites related to adultery, drugs, gambling, alcohol and tobacco. This is mainly because ads pertaining to these sites are banned by Facebook and Google.

Coronavirus leads to surge in fake ads and misinformation

In the aftermath of coronavirus outbreak, popular social media platforms like Facebook have witnessed a sporadic upsurge in fake ads and misinformation regarding the pandemic diseases. Several of these fake ads were related to selling of facemasks and sanitizers that made inflated claims.

Facebook responded by banning such ads and simultaneously unveiled a stringent policy to control misinformation about coronavirus. But there have been reports that fake ads are again making a comeback on the platform.

These fake ads reportedly used the same malicious technique that was used by LeadCloak.

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