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What Is Cloaking and Why Is Facebook So Upset About It?

Photograph by Carl Court/Getty Carl Court Getty Images

Facebook is stepping up its fight against a type of spamming technique called cloaking.

The technology giant said Wednesday that it’s taking extra measures to eliminate the problem, which involves bad actors misleading people on the social network to visit malicious websites.

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People engaging in cloaking use the technique to fool Facebook’s internal reviewers who manually check links on advertising-related posts to see if they adhere to its company policies.

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In the case of Facebook fb , the troublemakers create ads or posts with links that take Facebook’s review team to websites that follow the company’s guidelines. However, when Facebook users click on the postings, they are redirected to malicious websites that “frequently include diet pills, pornography, and muscle building scams.”

These types of websites “create negative and disruptive experiences for people,” Facebook said.

Facebook didn’t reveal how it discovered cloaking scams designed to trick its reviewers. The company merely said that it is using “artificial intelligence and have expanded our human review processes to help us identify, capture, and verify cloaking” without providing additional details.

Example of "cloaking" on Facebook. Example of "cloaking" on Facebook.

The social network said it would work with other unidentified companies to combat cloaking and “punish bad actors.” Facebook said that it had adjusted its policies to “explicitly call out this practice” and that it would ban advertisers or posts that use cloaking.

Facebook isn’t the only technology company fighting cloaking. Google, for example, also considers cloaking a violation of its own website guidelines.

In Google’s goog case, some bad actors create websites that only display HTML or text data to search engines, but show normal users websites that contain images or video displayed with Adobe’s adbe Flash technology, known for its bugginess and ability to be exploited by hackers.

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