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Facebook Is Suing To Send A Message To Scammers — And Regulators

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When Facebook caught the New Zealand–based company Social Media Series Limited selling likes from fake users on Instagram, the tech giant did something out of character. It sued.

 

The lawsuit, filed in April, was a departure from Facebook’s previously less confrontational approach to those it caught abusing its platform. When people and companies ran afoul of its policies, Facebook would slap them with bans and cease-and-desist letters but rarely took them to court. But in a turbulent moment for the company — with antitrust investigations mounting and US presidential candidates seeking to break it up — the social media giant is attempting to demonstrate it’s serious about cleaning up its act. And that means sending a message via the courts.

 

"By filing the lawsuit, we are sending a message that this kind of fraudulent activity is not tolerated on our services,” Jessica Romero, Facebook’s director of platform enforcement and litigation, said in a press release. “We will act to protect the integrity of our platform."

 

A former federal prosecutor who went after Chinese hackers while working for the Department of Justice, Romero joined Facebook roughly a year ago to create a deterrent for bad actors. In her short tenure, she’s gone after alleged criminals selling fake engagement, committing ad fraud, abusing user data, and cybersquatting on the company’s trademarks.

 

Her action against Social Media Series Limited is one of eight lawsuits filed this year as part of Facebook’s aggressive new litigation strategy. The signal Romero hoped to send is clear: Actors who exploit the platform at scale risk being pursued in court.

 

She told the Washington Post that her team will pursue “anything that impacts our user safety whether it be because of privacy reasons, fraud or misleading information on our platforms.” (Facebook declined to make Romero available for an interview.)

 

In addition to its action against Social Media Series Limited, this year Facebook has sued two Chinese app makers that allegedly committed ad fraud, a registrar that allegedly allowed domains to be registered that infringed on Facebook’s trademark and was unresponsive to the company’s legal letters, a South Korean app maker that allegedly mishandled user data, two Ukrainians who allegedly used malware to steal user data, four Chinese companies that allegedly sold fake accounts and engagement, and Israeli spyware maker NSO for allegedly targeting WhatsApp users with malware that enabled the company to spy on their communications. And in a suit filed last week, Facebook targeted a Hong Kong company and two Chinese citizens for allegedly using malware to compromise user accounts and run millions of dollars of deceptive Facebook ads.

 

 

 

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It probably sounded so simple many years ago.  Let's create a way for friends and family to keep in touch...

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