Today I got an email from MaxBounty that they are getting sued by Facebook over some of their free gift card offers that spread virally on Facebook. The guys who promoted the offers have been publically named too and they are Steven Richter and Jason Swan.
According to this article, Richter was creating fake Facebook Gold Account pages where users could install the so called “dislike” button. The app would then of course appear on their wall and take users through the never ending offers, you know all these surveys, free gift cards etc. Those offers pay anywhere from $1 to $2 per lead on some cpa networks and they supposedly got more than 388,000 people to those offers earning over $170,000!
The app after installation would update your wall and promote itself and spread virally because all your friends would see it too (it’s actually facebook’s own feature) kinda the same way like all the spammy games on facebook 🙂
Facebook also named MaxBounty in the lawsuit and this is really surprising because they don’t really have control over how their affiliates promote these offers. MaxBounty is accused of actually being the “mastermind” of this scheme?!
Here is what it says in the court filings:
MaxBounty encouraged its affiliates to carry out these schemes by providing them with assurances that their advertising methods were legitimate, by encouraging and coaching affiliates on ways to increase the effectiveness of their Facebook activities, and by providing technical support and substantial financial gain to the affiliates who agreed to participate in the scheme
Hmm, this statement doesn’t say anything besides the fact that MaxBounty trained affiliates how to get traffic and paid them well. Did they actually tell Richter and Swan to create these fake pages and create the app? Did they secretly planned that scam with their affiliates? I doubt it honestly.
Creating fan pages and promoting stuff is not a crime at least it wasn’t last time I checked. I agree that some of the offers are bullshit and don’t offer anything for free. When you see something that says “FREE $500 gift card” and then at the bottom it says “Participation required” that means you will need to sign up for one of the services they are promoting in order to get anything for free from them. It’s a lead generation system that works well and there are many reputable brands that participate in them.
Now, the fact that the app would spam users with these offers is not right and Facebook is right about sueing the affiliates for that, but sueing the affiliate network is kinda lame. Maybe I don’t know all the facts so maybe they do have proof that indeed MaxBounty had their hands in it, but for right now I think their accusations are incorrect.
Funny thing is that there is actually a legitimate dislike button that these affiliates where pointing the users to and it’s a FireFox browser add-on developed by FaceMod.
This is the first time Facebook sued an affiliate network, and I am very interested to see how it’s going to turn out, because if the affiliate network can be held responsible for affiliate’s actions then this could change a lot of things in the affiliate marketing industry.