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Your Wednesday Wake-Up Call: A Shadowy New Ad Fraud Scam. Plus, Another Facebook Fail

By Published on .

Welcome to Ad Age's Wake-Up Call, our daily roundup of advertising, marketing, media and digital-related news. You can get an audio version of this briefing on your Alexa device. Search for "Ad Age" under "Skills" in the Alexa app.

What people are talking about today: Another day, another fail by Big Tech. Non-profit news organization ProPublica did a test. It bought Facebook ads for rental housing and but asked that they not be sent to African Americans, Jews and people interested in wheelchair ramps, among other categories. What do you think happened? Facebook quickly approved all the ads, though ProPublica has drawn attention to discriminatory housing ads on Facebook before. As Ad Age's Garett Sloane writes, Facebook's VP-product management says there "was a failure in our enforcement and we're disappointed that we fell short of our commitments." And Facebook promised to get better. That tone sounds awfully familiar, since Facebook's been doing a lot of apologizing lately. Like on Sept. 20 ("totally inappropriate and a failure on our part"), Oct. 1 ("I will work to do better.") And Oct. 2 ("We are working to fix the issue"…)
Also: Axios has a good summary of former Facebook execs criticizing the platform lately.

'Smoking is highly addictive'
A court ordered Big Tobacco to run public service ads on U.S. TV about the dangers of smoking. Tobacco companies managed to avoid doing it for 11 years. And now that they can't stave it off any longer, they managed to create "the most bland anti-smoking campaign you will ever see," as Ad Age's E.J. Schultz writes. (Watch here and read more.) One of the ads features a white background with black text on it, and messages such as, "Smoking is highly addictive. Nicotine is the addictive drug in tobacco." How very interesting. Plus, the voiceover sounds robotic, like Siri but with less emotion.

Scam
An ad tech company says it has uncovered a fraud scheme that cost advertisers and publishers hundreds of thousands of dollars a day, at least, as The Wall Street Journal reports. Denmark-based Adform has dubbed the fraud "Hyphbot." The scammers "created more than 34,000 different domain names and more than a million different URLs, many designed to attempt to fool advertisers into thinking they were buying ad inventory from big-name publishers such as the Economist, the Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal and CNN," The Journal reports. Adform believes the fraud has been happening since August or earlier. The scheme will probably put a spotlight back on the industry's ads.txt initiative, which was designed to fight this kind of fraud, known as "domain spoofing." But the arrival of ads.txt didn't instantly solve the problem. Ad Age's George Slefo wrote three weeks ago that many large, well-known ad sellers had yet to adopt it.

A free and open internet
The chairman of the FCC, Ajit Pai has proposed overturning Obama-era rules on net neutrality, as Bloomberg News reports. That's a win for companies like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon (where the FCC chairman used to work.) And it's a blow for internet companies and consumers. The term "net neutrality" might make your eyes glaze over, but it's what prevents internet service providers from charging you extra to use certain apps or websites, among many other things. There's a cautionary tale to check out in Portugal, where access to messaging apps is an add-on payment, as are social networks like Facebook and video sites like Netflix, as Business Insider notes. Also, a related question: Does the blah term "net neutrality" needs a rebrand?

Just briefly:

Men behaving badly: John Lasseter, the revered animator and chief creative officer of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation Studios, is taking a leave of absence for six months because of unspecified "missteps," The Hollywood Reporter says. The Los Angeles Times talked to two women who described unwanted hugs from Lasseter, while other women said Pixar had a "boys club culture."

More men behaving badly: CBS has fired host Charlie Rose, and PBS has canceled distribution of his interview show, The New York Times says. Also watch how "CBS This Morning" handled news of sexual harassment allegations against Rose, with some details from Ad Age's Simon Dumenco.

Gasp: Scoop from Bloomberg News: Hackers stole Uber data on 57 million people, and the ride-sharing company kept the theft quiet for a year.

Big brother: Even if you've disabled location services on your phones, Android keeps data about your whereabouts and sends it to Google, Quartz reports.

Ikea: After toddlers were killed by toppling furniture, Ikea issued a recall, but only a fraction of buyers came forward to get refunded or pick up security add-ons, The Washington Post says.

Goodbye, part 1: Hewlett Packard Entreprise CEO Meg Whitman is stepping down.

Another goodbye: Peter Ruppe, who heads the footwear business for Under Armour, is leaving, The Wall Street Journal says.

Samsung: Beyond is the new global creative agency of record for Samsung Services, which includes apps such as Payment and Health, Ad Age's Lindsay Stein reports.

Clueless: A new study suggests "many advertisers are clueless about the media technology they're using to power much of their digital-media buying," Ad Age's Megan Graham reports.

Creativity pick of the day: KFC is selling a $10,000 dome that it's calling an "internet escape pod." It looks something like an igloo with Colonel Sanders draped over it. Check it out here, and read more explanation by Ad Age's Jessica Wohl.

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