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“OMG! Look what happened to his ex-girlfriend.”
“I can’t believe a 2 year old is doing THIS!”
“You will be SHOCKED when you see this video…”
If you’ve ever been trolled by a scammy, spammy Facebook post with a headline like the above, you’re gonna love this news. Adscend Media, a horrible sewer of an ad agency, has been called out by the law for its incessant commercial trolling and has been ordered to cease and desist its deceptive business practices.
In a Washington court, the firm was charged $100,000 in attorneys fees and ordered to stop plastering Facebook with headlines “designed to trick Facebook users into allowing spam to be sent to all of their Facebook friends.” Adscend was accused of violating the CAN-SPAM Act, and while it originally contemplated fighting the charges, chose to settle instead.
This kind of clickjacking has long been on Facebook’s radar and is among the company’s biggest security concerns. Facebook teamed up with the Washington Attorney General early this year to put a stop to Adscend and send a message to similar scamsters.
Adscend specializes in the seedy underbelly of online marketing — lead generation, affiliate marketing, and “soft incentive” campaigns that lure users into filling out forms with personal information in return for a reward. The Facebook clickjacking racket was in line with these other practices.
According to today’s court filing, which we’ve embedded in full below, “They [Adscend] do not disclose that the messages are advertisements, despite the fact that the messages’ sole purpose is to lure users to participate in deceptive advertising scams if they click on the links presented in the posts. Given Facebook’s social environment, users unwittingly click on the links because they believe the links were sent by their own Facebook friends.”
In reality, the messages originated from Adscend’s wide network of “affiliates,” professional Facebook trolls whose Pages are set up as bait for the scam. Now, Adscend will have to diligently monitor all its affiliates for CAN-SPAM compliance, as well.
Around 80 percent of Adscend’s $1.2 million monthly income was derived from Facebook scams.
“Facebook’s security professionals have made tremendous strides against this particular form of attack and we are intent on eradicating it completely,” said Craig Clark, lead litigation counsel at Facebook, in a recent statement.
“We will continue to use all tools at our disposal to ensure that scammers do not profit from misusing Facebook’s services.”
Here’s the full filing:
VentureBeat’s VB Insight team is studying email marketing tools.
Chime in here, and we’ll share the results