Last week, regular readers of TY4NS will recall that, for reasons that remain a mystery, my LinkedIn account was invaded by the country of Latvia. Today I am here to report that my Facebook account has also been overrun. However, this time the invading hordes are not citizens of a small but plucky Baltic nation but something else entirely.
I’ve been invaded by babes.
More specifically, my Facebook feed today has been festooned with sponsored ads featuring PG-13 rated photos of fit young women in various shades of undress. There are many examples, but here are three that kept popping up repeatedly.
Ironically, these showed up next to a discussion by Elle Magazine advice columnist E. Jean Carroll about how to treat women with respect. You can fill in your own joke here.
These ads in turn led to various Facebook pages created to promote Web sites with names like Excellent Girls, Good Girls, Nice Girl Selector, Miss Instagram, and so on. Those pages feature the same Google Adsense ads for “Hot Ladies available for online chat now,” “Meet singles in [insert name of city here]” and the occasional security software package that may or may not be malware in disguise.
Sure, everyone sees these kinds of ads from time to time on Facebook (well, I assume everyone does – I certainly do). But today the flow of hotties has been nonstop, with the exception of an occasional ad promoting Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren.
No, I don’t know how to interpret that either.
Here’s the thing. All of these sites – and I assume dozens or hundreds of others – are more or less identical, they’re all registered to some fictional name (like “Fred Stonecrawler”) in Istanbul, Turkey, and appear to be hosted by the same company.
For example, here’s the home page for Nice Girl Selector:
And here’s its sister site, Miss Instagram:
You gotta hand it to old Fred, he's not one to let a good Web template go to waste.
Note that none of these pages contain anything more graphic than what you see in those screen captures. And as far as I can tell, none of the sites engage in drive-by downloads or any of the more nefarious tricks you’ll encounter when trolling the Web’s dark underbelly. They don’t even violate Facebook’s ad guidelines. But they do make Facebook look extremely sleazy at a time when its image could certainly use a boost.
My best guess is that Facebook’s self-service ad system has been thoroughly gamed by the Web’s bottom feeders, probably through some bot that automatically generates thousands of ads for multiple sites, which all carry the same ads and probably generate a tidy little income for Fred and all the little Stonecrawlers.
Still, even these ads are an improvement than the other spate of Babe-a-palooza ads that have also invaded my Facebook account. These feature similarly fit women (usually wearing yoga gear) but clicking on them takes you offsite to a NSFW dating site signup page. That does violate Facebook’s ad guidelines. And again, these ads started showing up in droves just today, which makes me suspect they are all generated by the same group of Turkish spammers.
I’ve written about Facebook’s crappy-ad problem before, but this marks a new low. It’s the kind of thing makes Facebook look really dumb. The only thing that looks dumber? All the guys – and they’re almost all guys – who’ve clicked Like on these photos, tagged each other in them, and are trying to flirt with these women, not realizing they’re probably just talking to this guy.
Got a question about social media or privacy? TY4NS blogger Dan Tynan may have the answer (and if not, he’ll make something up). Follow him on Twitter: @tynanwrites. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-to’s, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.
Now read this: