Facebook is suing two developers for allegedly distributing ad-fraud software via mobile apps.
The Singapore-based JediMobi and Hong Kong-based LionMobi both “installed malware designed to intercept ad-related data and inject fake clicks," Facebook alleges in a complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.
Facebook's claims include breach of contract and violations of the federal computer fraud law.
JediMobi distributed an Android calculator app, which offered basic math functions as well as features like exchange rate calculation and time zone conversion, while LionMobi offered an app that promised to “clean” Android phones and free up storage space.
Both developers registered their apps with Facebook’s Audience Network, while LionMobi also advertised its “Power Clean” app on Facebook, according to the complaint.
Facebook says it discovered the fake clicks associated with JediMobi and LionMobi late last year, at which point the company suspended the accounts and issued refunds to advertisers.
The social networking platform's complaint describes a sophisticated scheme that involved efforts to make it seem as if the phony clicks came from humans, not bots.
"The malware was ... designed to make the fake clicks appear to be those of a real user by falsifying user movements on the device and timing the fake clicks so that they occurred after a user would have the opportunity to view the ad,” Facebook writes in its complaint.
The company alleges the fake clicks generated over 40 million ad impressions from October 2018 to December 2018.
LionMobi said in an emailed statement that it "has never obtained any illegal income by so-called click injection fraud on the Facebook platform."
The developer added that some of its apps integrate code created by third parties, and suggested that those outside companies were
responsible for any violations of Facebook's policies. LionMobi stated it learned in December of 2018 of potential problems with programs created by third parties, and subsequently removed all suspect