What is Cloaking? – Why Facebook is Taking Legal Action Against Companies?

Recently Facebook has filed a new lawsuit over violation of its terms and conditions, this time aiming for a company called ‘LeadCloak’ and its use of ad ‘cloaking’ to re-direct user actions.

As explained by Facebook:

“Cloaking is a malicious technique that impairs ad review systems by concealing the nature of the website linked to an ad. When ads are cloaked, a company’s ad review system may see a website showing an innocuous product such as a sweater, but a user will see a different website, promoting deceptive products and services which, in many cases, are not allowed.”


cloaking , facebook legal action

What is Cloaking?


After the above news that Facebook is taking a legal against a company who was doing cloaking of FB ads, A lot of people have questions about cloaking,


What exactly is it?

How does Google define it?

Why is it high-risk behavior?


So let’s understand –

What is cloaking?


Cloaking is essentially showing different content to users than to Googlebot.

And it’s high risk. That’s a violation of Google’s quality guidelines.

If you search for quality guidelines on Google, you’ll find a list of all the stuff and a lot of auxiliary documentation about how to find out whether you’re in a high-risk area.

But let’s just discuss this a little bit.


Why do we consider cloaking bad, or why does Google not
like cloaking?


Well, the answer is sort of in the ancient days of search engines, when you’d see a lot of people do deceptive or misleading things with cloaking.

So for example, when Googlebot came, the webserver that was cloaking might return a page all about cartoons– Disney cartoons, whatever.

But when a user came and visited the page, the webserver might return something like adult content.

And so if you search for Disney cartoons on Google, you’d get a page that looked like it would be about cartoons, you’d click on it, and then you’d get adult content.

That’s a hugely bad experience.

People complain about it. It’s an awful experience for users.

So Google say that all types of cloaking are against their quality guidelines.

So there’s no such thing as white hat cloaking.

Certainly, when somebody’s doing something especially deceptive or misleading, that’s when Google cares the most.

That’s when the webspam team gets involved. But any type of cloaking is against Google’s guidelines.

Before you try any sneaky method to rank your site at the top over Google, it is always better to cross-check those ideas to avoid your site getting banned by the search engine.