Facebook sues Hong Kong app developer over Android malware
Aug 7, 2019
Facebook has sued a Hong Kong-based developer for allegedly implanting malware into Android apps that created fake clicks on the social network’s ads.
Why it matters: The case is the latest in a series of offensives against Chinese companies found to be injecting malware in apps for financial gain.
- Google has banned developers including Baidu-affiliate Do Global from its Play Store for similar reasons. Meanwhile, the company barred CooTek from its ad platform after the Chinese company was found to be using a malicious plug-in that violated Google’s advertising policies.
Details: Hong Kong-based LionMobi allegedly engaged in “click injection fraud” to generate fake clicks on ads displayed on a smartphone. LionMobi was not immediately available for comment when TechNode reached out on Wednesday.
- Facebook’s complaint was also lodged against Singapore-based developer JediMobi.
- The US company also said that LionMobi posted ads for malicious apps on its network, violating the company’s advertising policies.
- Facebook said its lawsuit is “one of the first of its kind” against the practice.
- Both LionMobi and JediMobi have been banned from Facebook’s Audience Network, which allows advertisers to extend their campaigns across the internet and into apps.
- Facebook said that advertisers affected by the maliciously generated ad clicks were reimbursed in March.
“LionMobi and JediMobi generated unearned payouts from Facebook for misrepresenting that a real person had clicked on the ads.” —Jessica Romero, Facebook’s director of Platform Enforcement and Litigation
Context: Tech companies are clamping down on malicious software that generates fraudulent revenue for app developers. The practice hurts companies like Facebook and Google, which rely on ads to drive revenue.
- Facebook has also been attempting to assuage concerns over user privacy issues that arose after the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
- Last year, Google removed several apps developed by Cheetah Mobile for ad fraud.