Facebook Click Fraud Charges Continue

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For the third time since July, a pay-per-click advertiser has filed a lawsuit against Facebook for allegedly charging for clicks that never occurred.

In the potential class-action lawsuit, filed late last week in federal district court in San Jose, California resident Steven Price alleges that Facebook overcharged him for ads that appeared between May 26 and June 21. Price, who alleges that Facebook billed him $500 for that time period, says that analytics programs from Google and Statcounter.com show that around two-thirds of the clicks he was charged for didn't take place.

On May 27 alone, Facebook allegedly billed Price for 95 clicks -- but, he says, Google Analytics showed only 19 clicks originating at Facebook.

Price alleges that Facebook acknowledged it had charged him for invalid clicks and gave him $105.01 in credits that could be used to purchase other ads. But Price argues in his court papers that ad credits are not a sufficient remedy. "Unlike the cash refund to which plaintiff is entitled, these credits expire December 15, 2009," he alleges. In addition, he asserts, "these credits do not even come close to compensating plaintiff for the monies that he has been wrongfully charged."

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Last month, sports site RootZoo and software marketer United ECM also sued Facebook for click fraud.

The first of the lawsuits came within weeks of a widely publicized TechCrunch post about alleged click fraud on Facebook. That item discussed recent marketer complaints made on the WickedFire forum. At the time, Facebook acknowledged that it had seen an increase in "suspicious clicks" and was rolling out a fix. The company also said it was identifying advertisers who had been affected and would credit their accounts.

A Facebook spokesperson called the litigation "unnecessary and baseless." "We have developed a series of sophisticated systems to detect anomalous activity and ensure advertisers are not charged for this activity," the spokesperson said. "In addition, we analyze tremendous amounts of data to discern larger click patterns and, in rare cases where this research, other analysis, or advertiser questions reveal charges for invalid clicks, we issue credits to impacted advertisers."

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