Facebook Sues Fraudsters for Click Injection
Facebook has sued two app developers for click injection fraud. Facebook alleges that the developers made Google Play apps that when downloaded, installed malware on the user’s device, generating fake clicks on Facebook ads, leading to fraudulent revenue. Singapore-based JediMobi and Hong Kong-based LionMobi are the two beneficiaries of this fraudulent ad revenue.
The unprecedented legal action was announced in a Facebook blog post earlier this month. “Our lawsuit is one of the first of its kind against this practice.”
The social media giant alleged that LionMobi advertising their malicious apps on Facebook is a violation of Facebook’s Advertising Policies. As a result, LionMobi and JediMobi face legal action, and have been banned from Facebook’s Audience Network and have had their accounts disabled.
Facebook reported that “all impacted advertisers were refunded by Facebook in March 2019”.
The fraudulent ad revenue was generated by a method called “click injection”. Click injection are fake clicks sent from a device (real or fake) to an attribution network, after a genuine install has begun. This fools the attribution network into misattributing the genuine install to the fraudulent click. This results in revenue being diverted from the genuine publisher, to the owner of the fraudulent click.
Facebook reportedly detected this fraud as part of their ongoing investigation into abuse by app developers and advertisers.
Although, the problem extends beyond Facebook, with an estimated 27% of all Google Play ad traffic being fraudulent, according to an Interceptd report on mobile ad fraud in 2019. Of fraudulent ad traffic reported in 2019, 17% is estimated as click injection.
Although ad fraud is high, awareness low. Ad fraud is estimated to cost advertisers $5.8 Billion this 2019 according to a report by the Association of National Advertisers, based in the United States.
Companies such as Interceptd, are dedicated to identifying and blocking ad fraud and they not only battle the evolving fraudsters, but also the slow rise of ad fraud awareness.