Washington state and Facebook have double-teamed on separate lawsuits against Adscend Media, a company that allegedly runs “likejacking” campaigns to collect money and/or personal information from Facebook users.
As GeekWire reports, the practice was allegedly adding up to $1.2 million per month to Adscend’s coffers.
Likejacking, or “clickjacking” as the official release from Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna calls it, is described as follows:
Scammers design Facebook Pages to look like they will offer visitors an opportunity to view salacious or provocative content. They condition viewing this content on completing a series of steps that are designed to lure Facebook users into eventually visiting websites that often deceive them into surrendering their personal information or signing up for expensive mobile subscription services.
First, Facebook users are encouraged to click the “Like” button on the scammers’ Facebook Pages, which then alerts their friends to the existence of the page. Then they are told that they cannot access the content unless they complete an online survey or advertising offer. In one example noted in the complaint, the scammers overlay the Facebook “Like” button with a link that promises to reveal the results of: “This man took a picture of his face every day for 8 years!!” Of course, the promised content often does not exist and the tricked user is then directed through a series of prompts taking them off of Facebook and through a host of unrelated advertising and subscription service offers, where the scammers receive money for each misdirected user.
Washington’s lawsuit accuses Adscend of violating the CAN-SPAM Act, the state’s Commercial Electronic Mail Act and its Consumer Protection Act. The AG’s office is asking the courts to put a halt to the practices, award damages and impose civil penalties on the defendant.
You can download a copy of the state’s complaint (PDF).
Postscript, May 8, 2012: All parties have now settled these lawsuits. See our article, Facebook, Washington Settle Suits With Alleged ‘Likejacker’, for more information.