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Facebook Crime Spam The Almighty Buck The Courts Your Rights Online

Facebook Spammers Make $20M, Get $100K Fine 74

jfruh writes "Adscend Media, which has been making up to $20M a year from so-called 'likejacking' spam on Facebook, has reached an agreement with the Attorney General of Washington to stop those activities and pay $100,000 in court costs. Among other nefarious techniques, Adscend would overlay Facebook 'like' buttons with provocative photos to spread links to ads from which Adscend would earn referral fees. Adscend also settled out of court with Facebook for an undisclosed amount."
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Facebook Spammers Make $20M, Get $100K Fine

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  • by Moheeheeko ( 1682914 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @11:10AM (#39928201)
    Likejacker makes 20m, pays 100k

    Banks crash the world economy selling junk loans, get 400 billion.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Where do the spammers get the money from?

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Greetings, I'm an angel investor who manages a mutual fund derived from baby boomer pensions and union fees. I would like to know more about your investment ideas. Call me!

      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @11:30AM (#39928537)

        Sorry, you have to work on Wall Street from the inside. But every time there's a bull market in either stocks or housing, there should be another opportunity to hire "the smartest people in the room" who construct "fail-safe" financial instruments and strategies that nobody can understand, eventually managing to lose every cent of OPM (and require taxpayer bailouts) while raking in 8 or 9 figures USD for themselves for at least a few peak years.

        Makes these spammers look like amateurs.

    • Idiots buy junk loans and crash the world economy.

      • by s-whs ( 959229 )

        Idiots buy junk loans and crash the world economy.

        That is a moronic comment. It's just like saying "Only idiots trust their doctors for medical advice".

        • Many doctors now get trips and free drugs from pharmaceutical companies to push their particular form of drugs.
          So. No. I do not blindly trust them. They are no longer what they once were.
          When people paid for their own medical care Doctors needed to take oaths and be serious about them. Doctors were held up on a pedestal and at the time deservedly so. Now they are owned by Medicare, HMOs, and Drug companies. They are doing commercials pushing diet aids and herbal remedies to make your dick bigger. They now m

      • "Idiots" buy triple A rated investment instruments, find out too late they were lied to, world economy crashes.
        • The self-appointed experts who got on national TV news programs or in other ways to advise the public at-large that they will not have enough money to retire unless they invest in the stock market should have to answer for their false claims. Even Bob Dole got on the radio with a public service announcement to say that "markets rebound, they always do". Most of his retired audience at the time have now died broke and penniless. Ed McMahon is a sad example. When I first had a salary and money to invest t

    • by Hamsterdan ( 815291 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @01:01PM (#39929867)

      Yet someone who downloads a couple of CDs pays a 1 Million fine

  • by conner_bw ( 120497 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @11:17AM (#39928335) Journal

    I think we can all agree that Facebook should buy them for a billion dollars.

    Problem solved!

  • by virgnarus ( 1949790 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @11:31AM (#39928551)

    I don't understand, how provocative can you be with those tiny "Like" buttons? Maybe enough space to show 1/5th of a nipple? Perhaps they just color it with a skin tone to give people the impression they're looking at a naked button.

  • Bad summary? (Score:4, Informative)

    by cpu6502 ( 1960974 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @11:31AM (#39928561)

    They didn't "make" 20 million. They collected 13 million in 2011, minus operating and labor costs, and earned about 2 million overall. So they were hit with a 5% fine.

  • by bmenglish ( 2609991 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @11:33AM (#39928585)
    Definitive proof that it is better to ask forgiveness than ask permission.
  • Moral of the story (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Rooked_One ( 591287 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @11:46AM (#39928745) Journal
    crime pays... like that's not a known fact by now.

    Only in america.
  • I want to know what Facebook's share of the loot was and how Facebook profited from this.

    Why does it seem like the small government imposed fine was small intentionally so that the larger part of the penalty could be a settlement with Facebook?

    Which in my mind smells like Facebook profiting on their own complaint, which is a pretty sweet deal when you can complain to the government about somebody gaming your system (and hence, depriving you of a cut) and then get the government to basically recover your los

  • First, the obvious reason: as we've seen over and over and over again, spammers can make huge sums of money and then settle up pre-trial for a fraction of it. Then they can dissolve the company, move somewhere else, reincorporate, and use both the capital acquired and the lessons learned to try their hand at something even more abusive. The classic example of this is Sanford Wallace, but he's not the only one.

    Second, the non-obvious reason: Facebook are spammers. But we don't see any AG going after th
    • I don't get it: how is Facebook a spammer? You have to actually go to their site to do anything, though many third-party sites put FB's "like" button on their news articles or whatever, but that's their right. A "spammer" is someone who forces their advertising on you whether you want it or not, without asking first or getting you to ask for it.

  • It's unfortunate that so many of my peers seem to blindly allow any kind of Facebook script/application run even if it requires the ability to post under your name, spreading spam like this. I have to admit I've clicked on a few of these links sometimes, those along the lines of "biggest boobs ever! Must watch" out of curiosity, only to be redirected to a malicious app at which point I just left the page.

    The same goes for these new, legitimate news readers that tell which articles your friends read on Gua
    • You have to watch out for those "legitimate" news outlets. I clicked on an app for News of the World and they started recording and rebroadcasting all the calls going through my cell phone.

      • Yes, this also happened with me. I clicked to a new link and it asked me to go to this application, and it started scanning my pc for errors. I closed my browser soon. So, we should be careful of these apps.
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Tuesday May 08, 2012 @12:21PM (#39929275) Homepage

    There's a whole industry out there spamming "social". At the top are the advertisers who want results and don't ask too many questions. Below them are the SEO firms, advertising things like "Guaranteed first page listings or your money back". [youtube.com] Below them are the businesses that sell "bulk Likes", "+1"s, and fake reviews.

    But that's not the bottom of the swamp. The people generating fake social rankings need services to help them. So there are outfits which sell fake Google, Facebook, and Yelp accounts in bulk. Software companies which sell tools for creating fake accounts in bulk. ("250,000 +1 votes per day on a fast connection" ) Outsourcing firms which create fake accounts. These operations tend not to advertise openly, but can be found on "black hat" SEO forums.

    They, in turn, need support services. They need fake IP addresses and fake phone numbers for verification calls. There are services to provide those. You can rent phone numbers in bulk for 20 minutes. Bulk IP addresses, needed for bulk fake account creation, come from proxies, many of which come from malware on compromised machines. This is down at the organized crime level.

    See our paper "Social is bad for search, and search is bad for social" [sitetruth.com] for the gory details.

    This all started in late 2010, when Google started feeding "local" social data into web search results. There had been social spamming before that, but it was a minor business. Once Google went "social", social spamming took off. Now, social spamming is mainstream SEO. It's cheaper than running a link farm. It's also safer. There's seldom any retaliation from the search engines for social spamming. Even if they detect a fake social account, they can't tie it back to the source. With link farms, the whole farm can be banned, which can shut down a SEO firm.

    • Now, social spamming is mainstream SEO. It's cheaper than running a link farm. It's also safer. There's seldom any retaliation from the search engines for social spamming.

      If you're artificially inflating the user counts of Google+, Google is likely on your side, since they're doing that anyway.

      • Don't knock these outsource support services. There's no way I could post as often on Slashdot and maintain my good Karma without a lot help from my virtual team based in Calcutta.

  • Sounds like a minor service charge in the cost of doing business. The Govt. seems to be acting like a mafia racket where they don't want to thwart this activity, they just want a slice of the pie.

  • So when did legal fines turn into taxes on illegal operations.

  • ...that Facebook is already past its prime? I'm getting a serious AOL flashback every time I read something like this, that it's teenyboppers and grandmas who are affected, most other demographics have already moved on to Google+ and the like.
  • Like on Brewster's Millions, they spent $20 million in 20 days, but only rented everything. The scoundrels did some accounting after a last minute furniture deposit snafu and found the $100k. It was all the government could take!! Now for the real prize....the $200,000,000 windfall from Uncle Rupert!!

Research is what I'm doing when I don't know what I'm doing. -- Wernher von Braun