Facebook says it is intensifying its efforts to control scams and fake news by taking a harder line on “cloaking,” a tactic that bad actors use across the web to avoid detection.
“We’ve recently been ramping up our enforcement,” says Rob Leathern, Facebook product management director. “We are making it clear: We don’t tolerate cloaking.”
Cloaking is a longtime but straightforward practice of so-called black hats online. Fraudulent marketers, pornographers and even racists have used it to disguise their true nature in search results and in social feeds.
Facebook was already seeking out links on its platform to landing pages that don’t deliver what was promised, serve deceptive ads or have too many ads. Possible penalities included warnings, lower visibility for links and outright bans from the platform.
Some of the more elaborate cloaking efforts, however, are tough to recognize. One method is to show Facebook one version of a site to gain approval, then serve something different when Facebook users arrive.
“For example, they will set up web pages so that when a Facebook reviewer clicks a link to check whether it’s consistent with our policies, they are taken to a different web page than when someone using the Facebook app clicks that same link,” Leathern wrote in a blog post Wednesday. “Cloaked destination pages, which frequently include diet pills, pornography and muscle building scams, create negative and disruptive experiences for people.” Facebook Uses AI to Stop Spammers From Cloaking Their Tracks | Digital – AdAge