Facebook is suing a Thailand-based Indian citizen for developing and distributing software that was used to bypass the social network's advertising review process and run deceptive ads on its platform. These ads linked to cryptocurrency scams, deceptive diet pills, and inaccurate information about the coronavirus pandemic.
Basant Gajjar, the defendant in the suit, used "cloaking", a process that circumvented the review system by hiding the true ad content on the site. When clicked by users on the site, the ad redirected them to something entirely different. To elude the automated reviews, Gajjar's website encouraged advertisers to block IP addresses used by Facebook and Google.
Facebook alleged in its lawsuit that other tech companies have also been targeted through this technique, including Google, WordPress, Oath, and Shopify. The firm noted that an ad thumbnail displaying steel spoons was clicked by almost 4,202 users in March. They were then taken to "a fake news article that promoted bitcoin investments to counter the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and used the image of a local celebrity.”
When requested for comment on the matter, Gajjar did not immediately respond.