After pursuing several groups over the sale of Likes and followers, Facebook is now taking aim at another type of spam – scammers who register Facebook-like domain names then use those to try and dupe users with alert emails and the like.
As per Facebook:
“This week we filed suit in California against domain name registrar OnlineNIC and its privacy/proxy service ID Shield for registering domain names, or web addresses, that pretended to be affiliated with our company, such as www-facebook-login.com and facebook-mails.com. By mentioning our apps and services in the domain names, OnlineNIC and ID Shield intended to make them appear legitimate and confuse people. This activity is known as cybersquatting and OnlineNIC has a history of this behavior.”
As noted, this is the latest in Facebook’s expanding efforts to stamp out questionable practices around its platform. Back in March, following a New York Attorney General ruling that selling fake social media followers and likes is essentially illegal, Facebook launched legal action against four Chinese-based companies which were selling Facebook Likes. That case is part of a growing push back against such processes – furthering this, last month, the FTC ruled that selling followers and likes is illegal, adding to growing legal precedent.
Going after cybersquatters is another element in this line, with Facebook looking to better protect users from such fraud, and eliminate any such associations with its company.
“We don’t want people to be deceived, so we track and take action against suspicious and misleading domains, including those registered using privacy/proxy services that allow owners to hide their identity. There are tens of millions of domain names on the web that have been registered using these privacy/proxy services. We proactively report instances of abuse to domain name registrars and privacy/proxy services and often collaborate with them to take down these malicious domains.”
These are important steps for Facebook to take, especially when you consider the gaps in digital literacy, particularly among Facebook’s older user base. You can see how it would be easy for scammers to dupe some less familiar people with seemingly legitimate email alerts about their accounts, which then can lead to profile hijacking, blackmail, and worse.
It’s also good to see that there is a growing legal shift against such activities, which should help to clean up and clarify various elements of the digital space.
And while scammers will always adapt and evolve, increasing the potential penalties remains a significant deterrent. The growing legal pushback will likely help in this respect.