WASHINGTON - Facebook warned Thursday that members who buy "friends" from an Australian online marketing company could face banishment from the social network.
The Brisbane-based firm, uSocial.net, offered this week to sell a Facebook user 1,000 friends for 177 dollars and 5,000 friends -- the limit imposed by Facebook on a standard profile account -- for 654 dollars.
Facebook "fan" pages have no limits and USocial.net said it could supply 1,000 Facebook fans for 177 dollars and 10,000 fans for 1,167 dollars.
USocial caused a stir earlier this year with a similar offer to users of popular micro-blogging service Twitter seeking to increase their number of followers.
Facebook fired back against uSocial on Thursday and issued a reminder that it was against its terms of service for a user to access an account belonging to someone else or to share a password.
"It's our understanding that uSocial logs in as a user and manipulates their account," the Palo Alto, California-based company said. "This is a violation of our terms by uSocial and any user who participates in their programs.
"Thus, we?d caution any customer of their service that their account and investment is in jeopardy," Facebook said in a statement.
"If we find a user has violated our terms we may take action against them, including permanently disabling their account," it said.
On its website, uSocial said "the simple fact is that with a large following on Facebook, you have an instant and targeted group of people you can contact and promote whatever it is you want to promote."
USocial chief executive Leon Hill, in a statement promoting his service, said "Facebook is an extremely effective marketing tool as anyone with a large number of targeted friends or fans can attest to.
"The only problem is that it can be extremely difficult to achieve such a following, which is where we come in," Hill said.