Facebook is cracking down on deceptive ads for porn and diet pills

rob leathern

Facebook is kicking thousands of shady advertisers off its site.

The social networking giant says it’s cracking down on scam artists who dupe consumers into clicking on ads promising things like flower deliveries but actually sending them to web pages peddling diet pills, dubious muscle-building promises or even pornography.

Facebook says the practice is known as ‘cloaking.” A fraudster will make an ad or post look legitimate so that it not only fools people but also Facebook’s internal ad delivery system. Facebook prohibits certain companies from advertising so they try and use cloaking to get around the filters.

The cloaking problem isn’t new, but it has persisted to the point that Facebook is putting more manpower and artificial intelligence into tackling the problem, product management director Rob Leathern told Business Insider.

“This has been an industry problem for a long time,” said Leathern. “We’re ramping up enforcement.” Facebook also plans to start working with other digital media companies to help combat the cloaking problem across the web.

Leathern said Facebook has already purged thousands of pages and ad accounts from its systems. He won’t say exactly what steps the company is planning to tackle the problem, so not to tip off the bad guys.

“This is small in the grand scheme of things, but we want to [take on] the bad actors and find other ways to increase the costs [of doing business] for those companies,” Leathern told Business Insider. “It’s absolutely going to be a cat and mouse game. We’re not going to get rid of it completely. We have to continue to work hard on this.” 

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