Facebook Sues Indian Techie Over Deceptive COVID-19 Ads

facebook sues indian techie for deceptive covid-19 ads
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Facebook has filed a lawsuit against Indian-American software architect Basant Gajjar, who violated the company’s policies by providing cloaking software and services designed to circumvent the automated ad review system and ultimately run deceptive ads on both Facebook and Instagram.

Gajjar operated under the name ‘LeadCloak’ and provided ad-cloaking software that was designed to push fake news and scams related to COVID-19, cryptocurrency, pharmaceuticals, diet pills, and fake news pages. Some of the cloaked websites also included images of celebrities, to make the ads look more plausible.

LeadCloak’s software also targeted a number of other technology companies including Google, Oath, WordPress, Shopify, and others, claimed Facebook in its lawsuit filed in federal court in California.

“Cloaking is a malicious technique that impairs ad review systems by concealing the nature of the website linked to an ad,” Facebook said in a statement late Thursday. “When ads are cloaked, a company’s ad review system may see a website showing an innocuous product such as a sweater, but a user will see a different website, promoting deceptive products and services which, in many cases, are not allowed,” explained Jessica Romero, Director of Platform Enforcement and Litigation at Facebook.

According to Gajjar’s brief profile available on the Internet, he is a digital marketer, SaaS expert, and Founder and System Architect at LeadCloak.com. Gajjar earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Management Information Systems, General from California State University-Sacramento and a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science, also from California State University-Sacramento.

In addition to the lawsuit, Facebook said it has taken technical enforcement measures against Leadcloak and accounts that they have “determined have used their software, including disabling personal and ad accounts on Facebook and Instagram.”

“This suit will also further our efforts to identify Leadcloak’s customers and take additional enforcement actions against them,” said Facebook in an official statement.

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