San Francisco — Social media giant Facebook is going after two Asian web developers, including Singaporean company JediMobi Tech Ltd, for planting malware in Android apps.
The other Asian company that Facebook is suing is Hong Kong’s LionMobi Holding Ltd.
Facebook filed a lawsuit against JediMobi and LionMobi on August 6 in a federal court in San Francisco, USA.
The apps that JediMobi and LionMobi developed reportedly plant malware that automatically clicks on ads in order to increase revenues.
The case against JediMobi is Facebook, Inc. v. JediMobi Tech Pte. Ltd., 3:19-cv-04556, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).
JediMobi is the developer of Calculator Plus, a photo calculator math app that allows users to scan photos which contain math equations and solve them quickly, while LionMobi is behind the Power Clean app, an anti-virus and phone cleaner.
Neither company has made a statement concerning the lawsuit as yet.
According to the legal complaint filed by Facebook, one of the apps was able to generate over 40 million ad impressions and 1.7 million clicks through Facebook’s Audience Network in just three months via a practice known as “click injection fraud.”
The social media giant says that the malicious code was transferred into people’s cell phones via the apps.
Part of the complaint reads, “At times, the malware was delivered in the form of ‘updates’ to the apps and, after October 2018, the malware was included directly in the apps.”
According to Facebook, it was able to discover the fake ad clicks last December and the firm removed the developers from the social network, adding that the company returned the payment of advertisers who had paid for the fake clicks.
The company now seeks restitution and damages, although the amounts for these are still unknown.
Jessica Romero, Facebook’s Director of Platform Enforcement and Litigation announced the news concerning the lawsuit on the platform’s newsroom on August 6. Ms Romero mentioned that the company’s lawsuit is the first of its kind against click injection fraud.
“Today, Facebook filed suit against two app developers for click injection fraud. The developers made apps available on the Google Play store to infect their users’ phones with malware. The malware created fake user clicks on Facebook ads that appeared on the users’ phones, giving the impression that the users had clicked on the ads.
“The two developers are LionMobi, based in Hong Kong, and JediMobi, based in Singapore. LionMobi and JediMobi generated unearned payouts from Facebook for misrepresenting that a real person had clicked on the ads. The ads were part of Facebook’s Audience Network. LionMobi also advertised its malicious apps on Facebook, in violation of our Advertising Policies.
“Our lawsuit is one of the first of its kind against this practice,” she said.
She added that Facebook detected this fraud as part of its continuous efforts to investigate and stop abuse by app developers and any abuse of our advertising products.
“LionMobi and JediMobi have been banned from Audience Network and their accounts have been disabled. All impacted advertisers were refunded by Facebook in March 2019.”/ TISG