Washington state and Facebook are suing a Delaware company for 'clickjacking' and other spam-spreading tactics.
According to the state attorney general's office, the practice eaned as much as $1.2 million a month for ad network Adscend Media.
"We don’t ‘like’ schemes that illegally trick Facebook users into giving up personal information or paying for unwanted subscription services through spam," says attorney general Rob McKenna.
"We applaud Facebook for devoting significant technical and legal resources to finding and stopping scams as soon as possible – and often before they even start. We’re proud to join forces in order to protect Washington consumers."
The scams followed the usual pattern, says the attorney general's office. Facebook users are tempted with 'salacious or provocative' content into clicking 'Like'.
They're then told that, to go any further, they need to complete an online survey.
In one example noted in the complaint, the scammers overlay the Facebook 'Like' button with a link that promises to reveal the results of: "This man took a picture of his face every day for 8 years!!"
The user's then led through a series of prompts taking them away from Facebook and into a series of unrelated advertising and subscription service offers, netting the scammers money every time.
In some cases, a hidden code in enticing-looking links activates the 'Like' function and puts it on the users’ friends’ news feeds.
The attorney general’s lawsuit was filed in US District Court in Seattle, and Facebook's in federal court in the Northern District of California.
"Facebook’s security professionals have made tremendous strides against this particular form of attack and we are intent on eradicating it completely," says Craig Clark, lead lCounsel at Facebook.
"We will continue to use all tools at our disposal to ensure that scammers do not profit from misusing Facebook’s services."