Facebook, Washington Sue Adscend Over Spam Targeting Social Media Users

Facebook Inc. and Washington State sued Adscend Media LLC for running a $20 million-a-year spam scheme that leads social-media users to advertising sites by offering fake links to salacious videos.

Lawsuits were filed in federal courts in Seattle and California today, Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna and Facebook lawyer Craig Clark said. The Adscend scheme spreads when a post that appears to come from a friend appears on a person’s Facebook page with a link to a video, McKenna said at a news conference in Seattle.

When a Facebook user clicks on the link, a box that appears to come from Menlo Park, California-based Facebook pops up and asks the user to confirm that he or she is older than 13 years of age, McKenna said. When it’s clicked, the original post is sent to all of the user’s Facebook friends. The video link then leads users to advertising sites that pay a commission to Adscend, McKenna said.

Ali Fehzan, a co-founder of Adscend, declined to comment on the lawsuits in a telephone interview.

The complaints allege violations of U.S. anti-spam laws and seek court orders blocking Adscend from accessing Facebook and targeting its users, as well as triple damages.

The California case is Facebook Inc. v. Adscend Media LLC, 12-414, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco). The Washington case is State of Washington v. Adscend Media LLC, 12-cv-139, U.S. District Court, Western District of Washington (Seattle).

To contact the reporter on this story: Karen Gullo in San Francisco at kgullo@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net

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