Facebook unites hundreds of millions of people each day, but lurking in the shadows are some bad actors who treat the platform as the Wild, Wild West. Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna is looking to bring some order to the chaos, specifically targeting a scheme known as “likejacking” or “clickjacking.”
Today, Facebook and the Washington State Attorney General’s office filed separate lawsuits against a Delaware company known as Adscend Media, an ad network that’s allegedly pushing an online advertising scheme that tricks Facebook users into giving up personal information.
It does this by misleading users into thinking they are getting a message from a friend, when in fact it is an advertisement. “These scammers exploit the fact that social media engages with us in an exciting new way,” said McKenna, adding that the spam messages often are “too good to be true” and lead to traps that cause users to hand over personal information.
“Use your common sense, trust your instincts,” said McKenna who encouraged users not to trust links that look suspicious. He added that if an advertising message leads you down the rabbit hole of malicious activity, just stop. “It is a scam,” he said.
The lawsuits filed against Adscend indicates that the company is generating as much as $20 million annually. Neither Facebook nor the Washington AG’s office sent the company, which has been engaged in the activity for at least two years, a cease-and-desist order before filing the lawsuits.
“We’d love to see more AGs stepping in and helping out in this fight,” said Facebook General Counsel Ted Ullyot, who called McKenna a tech leader in addressing Internet scams.
Here’s a look at McKenna’s prepared remarks from a press conference today at Facebook’s office in Seattle.
Previously on GeekWire: Facebook, Washington AG file suits over ‘likejacking’ scheme