Is Facebook now accepting porn ads?

I was pretty shocked when I encountered an adult ad on my Facebook feed. How it got there, though, remains a mystery.

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The ad was not salacious in any way, but it still took Facebook’s automated ad approval system less than 10 minutes to reject the ad for violating its ad guidelines. Facebook never tells you which guidelines your ad violated, but I’m guessing it had something to do with the rule against the “sale or use of adult products or services.”

Next I created an ad specifically for The Tao of Badass, linking to the Web site of the same name. This one took Facebook 15 minutes to reject. But I wasn’t done yet. I recreated the first ad I saw – mangled English, original photo and all – and submitted it. I couldn’t figure out how to get that ad to redirect to that video, so it automatically linked to the URL listed in the ad.

This time it took Facebook nearly three days to reject the ad. As a final test, I recreated the second ad I saw. Facebook took four days before it finally rejected my final attempt.

So what exactly was going on? There were only two possibilities. Either Facebook’s ad servers had been compromised, or my system was infected with adware. I’d run a scan with Norton Internet Security, which gave my PC a clean bill of health. But you know how that goes; it doesn’t really mean I’m not infected.

I asked Facebook to weigh in, multiple times, as to what they thought was going on. I am still waiting for their response. I asked folks at three security vendors – Symantec, Sophos, and Avast – what they thought might be causing this. They at least got back to me, though they didn’t entirely agree.

A Symantec spokeshuman said:

“Fact is, it’s possible to inject content onto webpages—threats like Zeus and other financial Trojans use web injects to add additional fields on online banking sites in order to get targets to give out more information. There are even some ad-clicker threats that could be responsible for displaying these ads. It very well could be a result of malware.”

Jindrich Kubec, Virus Lab Director for Avast, concurs, noting that “it’s perfectly possible for malware to alter the pages in your browser,” either by installing a rogue browser add on, a local proxy that redirects traffic, or by injecting code directly into the browser page.

On the other hand, Sophos senior tech consultant and Naked Security blogger Graham Cluley says:

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