Facebook has filed a lawsuit against two companies that scraped data from its main app, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and Amazon to sell “marketing intelligence” and other services in a global operation.
Scraping is a form of data collection that relies on unauthorised automation for the purpose of extracting data from a website or app.
“The actions of BrandTotal Ltd, an Israeli-based company, and Unimania Inc, incorporated in Delaware, violate our Terms of Service and we are pursuing legal action to protect our users,” Facebook said in a statement on Thursday.
These companies exploited users’ access to Facebook service through a set of browser extensions called “UpVoice” and “Ads Feed” designed to access and collect data.
When people installed the extensions and visited websites, the browser extensions used automated programmes to scrape their name, user ID, gender, date of birth, relationship status, location information, and other information related to their accounts.
“The defendants’ extensions sent the scraped data to a server shared by BrandTotal and Unimania,” the social network informed.
This is not the first time Facebook has taken legal action against data scrapers.
In June, Facebook filed lawsuits on two continents against companies and individuals providing automation software services that enabled scraping and fake engagement.
In March 2019, it took legal action against two Ukranian developers who were harvesting data using quiz apps and browser extensions to scrape profile information and people’s friends lists on Facebook.
A Court in California recently recommended a judgment in Facebook’s favour on that case.
“In a separate case, another Court in California also ruled in favour of our practices against scraping in 2019”.