I know Facebook is busy working — possibly on a dating app or self-driving hoodies or the most efficient ways of stacking huge piles of cash — but I sure wish it would take a few minutes and address its continuing problem with bullshit scam-peddling advertising it is still, for some reason, allowing on its platform.
I spot this ad on Facebook:
At this point whenever I see a Facebook ad with a weird domain name attached to it, I get suspicious. So I click on it. And was not surprised to immediately get redirected to another domain and a giant scammy landing page:
To make it even more fun, a voice (what sounded like a computer-generated voice) immediately started telling me my computer had a virus, that all system activities had been halted, I had to call the number immediately because my personal data was at risk, etc. etc.
Since I’m not using Windows but Linux, I just closed the tab and went back to Facebook.
And I wondered: why did I see this? Facebook was getting a little more transparent about its advertising, so I used the “Why am I seeing this?” feature:
So apparently I’m seeing this because the scammers were trying to find people over 30 in the US they could hook into their crap.
And that caused me to wonder about the landing URL for the scam page: SearchOnlineSupport.xyz. Was that a known bad URL? Was that a holding pen for a number of scams? I checked a couple of online URL evaluators and didn’t find anything, so I finally looked at Whois.sc.
That domain registration is two. damn. days. old.
At this point I’m not shocked because I still don’t believe Facebook, as an entity, actually cares about fake advertising and scam-peddling on its platform.
As I’ve said before I bought advertising on Facebook for years. I know ads get reviewed before they go up. So what is happening? And would it be difficult to make and enforce a rule that specifies a domain landing page has to be — oh, 7 to 14 days old? — before someone can use it on Facebook, to avoid this kind of hit-and-run nonsense?
I am not worried about getting scammed myself – I’ve been dumb before and I’ll be dumb again, but this doesn’t worry me. I worry about people like my mother, who did get taken in by an “Your Windows computer is messed up” phone scam a few years ago. I worry about my mother-in-law, who lives over 3000 miles away and doesn’t have a lot of technical help available if her computer gets messed up.
I worry about all those people who find that they are so entangled in Facebook they’re having a hard time getting out, but are still vulnerable to scamming because Facebook is still letting ads like this slip through.
And yes, I know Facebook is a big platform. But I also know it’s sitting on cash reserves of over $40 billion dollars and apparently has the energy and bandwidth to work on a dating app.