Report: Facebook Contractor Accepted Bribes to Reactivate Banned Ad Accounts

Mark Zuckerberg
Andrew Harnik/AP

A Facebook contractor has reportedly been fired for taking thousands of dollars in bribes to reactivate banned advertising accounts on the platform.

An exclusive report from BuzzFeed News claims that a Facebook contractor was paid thousands of dollars in bribes to reactive ad accounts that had been banned on Facebook for violating the site’s policies. A Facebook spokesperson confirmed to BuzzFeed that following inquiries from the media outlet, an internal investigation had begun and a contractor had been fired.

A Facebook spokesperson told BuzzFeed News in a statement: “This behavior is absolutely prohibited under our policies and the individual is no longer working with Facebook. We’re continuing to investigate the allegations and will take any further necessary action.” The contractor was paid to reactivate banned Facebook Ads accounts linked to Ads Inc., a San Diego-based marketing firm.

It has previously been reported that Ads Inc. was running a Facebook scam that placed more than $50 million in ads across Facebook making false claims about celebrities. These ads tricked users into signing up for expensive monthly subscriptions for products that were advertised as free trials. Ads Inc. announced plans to shut down the firm in October following the BuzzFeed News investigation.

BuzzFeed News obtained emails between Ads Inc. CEO Asher Burke and the Facebook contractor which show that the two conspired to reactive banned ad accounts. In a conversation with Burke from the summer of 2018, a Facebook worker identified in the conversations as “Ryan” agreed to be paid a $5,000 fee to reactivate the accounts and a monthly retainer of $3,000. A former employee for Ads Inc. told BuzzFeed News that there was more than one person inside Facebook willing to turn ads back on for a fee. The former employee stated: “To be honest there were a few people that would flip ads back on.”

Ryan stated in a conversation with Burke that he would pretend to be ignorant of any issue if asked why he reactivated a business manager account that was shut down due to policy violations. Ryan stated: “I would basically be ‘playing dumb’ and reenabling by ‘accident.’”

Ryan then proposed the payment terms for the service, stating: “As far as payment goes. I’d prefer 3k/mo for a min of 3 months. Or a flat 5k fee to try and resolve this issue for you and be at your service for about a month. Something along those lines.” He added that “these accounts when active can potentially spend millions of dollars.”

Read the full report at BuzzFeed News here.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or email him at lnolan@breitbart.com

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