Some Google users searching for “Amazon” on Thanksgiving were shown a phony ad that redirected to a scam website, one day before the biggest shopping day of the year.
The ad appeared at the top of search results for an unknown number of users for at least part of the day Thursday:
Google said the ad violated its policies and was removed. It’s unknown what proportion of users searching for “Amazon” were shown the ad.
“This was an abuse of our platform. We strictly prohibit advertising of illegal activity and have removed these ads and suspended the account,” a Google representative said.
While the ad appeared to be a link to Amazon, users who clicked it were instead redirected briefly to a URL of an app running on a Facebook page. The redirect could be used to bypass Google’s automated scam detection tools.
It’s unclear how the app redirected users outside Facebook. The company could not immediately be reached for comment.
The app, which appeared to have been removed or shut down Thursday evening, then redirected users to a phony support site purporting to be run by Microsoft’s support team with a message saying the computer was infected with malware.