Facebook and Instagram filed suit against a user who operated a cloaking service, which allowed ads for a range of scams to slip through the advertisement reviews for both platforms.
On April 9, it has been reported that in a civil complaint filed with a federal court in San Francisco, the social media giants accuse Bassant Gaijar of operating LeadCloak, a software provider specializing in cloaking ads.
As per the complaint, Facebook alleges:
“[Gaijar’s] cloaking services were used to promote, among other things, deceptive diet pills and pharmaceuticals, cryptocurrency investment scams, and even misinformation about the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
However, the current complaint asks for relief of an unspecified sum, as well as a permanent injunction to keep Baijar and his associates off of Facebook and Instagram.
Cloaking is a means of identifying readers of a site, often by IP address, geolocation or the URL that they are coming from, particularly to spot reviewers from sites like Facebook that ban certain types of ads. Then, cloaking presents these reviewers with different information than what a typical user of the platform would see when presented with the same page.
Likewise, Facebook and Instagram are charging Gaijar with breach of contract on the basis that he signed their user agreements.
Facebook’s complaint alleges that Gaijar used at least four different profiles to operate since 2006. As of press time, Gaijar’s Facebook page seemed to be down.
Conversely, LeadCloak’s website remains operational as of press time.
At large, Facebook and Instagram and social media have had a hard time reining in disinformation on their sites. In February, billionaire Wissam al Mana filed suit against Facebook, demanding the platform identify who was behind ads selling Bitcoin scams using Mana’s image.
Thus, in January, ads using British financier Martin Lewis’ image for crypto scams reappeared on Instagram, after Lewis settled a suit against Facebook for similar issues.