In a crackdown on online scams, Facebook is suing four Chinese companies for allegedly creating and selling fake accounts and followers.
“Fake and inauthentic accounts can be used for spam and phishing campaigns, misinformation campaigns, marketing scams, advertising fraud, and other fraud schemes which are profitable at scale,” Facebook alleges in a complaint filed late last week in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. “These schemes frequently target the users of various social networking sites and online services providers.”
The Chinese companies sued by Facebook allegedly created websites like 9xiufacebook.com, infacebook.cc, and myhaoba.com, where the companies sold fake accounts that claimed to have thousands of followers. For instance, Myhaoba.com advertised a Facebook account with more than 3,000 “fans” for sale, according to the court papers.
Those sites also sold fake accounts on Facebook's Instagram, Google's YouTube and Twitter, according to the court documents.
“The price of the accounts varied by the age of accounts and other attributes, including the number of followers or geographical location associated with the accounts,” Facebook alleges.
Facebook's complaint alleges that the Chinese companies infringed Facebook's trademark, engaged in cybersquatting and violated the terms of service's prohibition on fake accounts.
“By filing the lawsuit, we hope to reinforce that this kind of fraudulent activity is not tolerated – and that we’ll act forcefully to protect the integrity of our platform,” Paul Grewal, vice president and deputy general counsel, stated.
Facebook is seeking monetary damages and an injunction ordering the Chinese companies to stop selling phony accounts.