Facebook Filed A Lawsuit Against Two Companies For Violating Policies

The largest social media platform company Facebook has filed a lawsuit in the United States (U.S.) against two organizations. These two companies have been allegedly engaged in “data scraping” operations. Their operations are said to be extended across Facebook-owned properties and other social media platforms such as Twitter, Amazon, YouTube, and LinkedIn.

Israeli-based BrandTotal and Unimania Inc., are the two businesses on whom the lawsuit is filed in the court. The two businesses claim that they have gathered the data of Facebook users for “marketing intelligence” intent; however, such engagements violates Facebook’s Terms of Service.

As per BrandTotal’s website, the company provides a real-time competitive intelligence platform to offers social media strategies and other media insights on their clients’ rivals. With the help of their insights, the client can validate their campaign performance in real-time and detect potential opportunities to leverage their brands on social media platforms. The eminent companies that are backing this company are Oracle, Microsoft, and Glilot, among others.

Meanwhile, Unimania Inc. offers apps to use social media platforms in a different way. For instance, it let the users browse Facebook via a mobile-web interface along with Twitter and Instagram. The company’s other app lets the users tap through Instagram stories anonymously. In addition to this, there’s one more app that is a “Facebook scrapper” which lets the users use Facebook without consuming a lot of data.

Facebook’s lawsuit is focused on BrandTotal’s “UpVoice” and Unimania’s “Ads Feed” browser extension. The Upvoice feature allows the users to save Facebook ads for reference whereas Ads Feeds extension rewards the users with gift cards for using prominent social networking sites and e-commerce website and reviewing their online campaigns. However, Facebook says that these extensions violate its polices about scraping the content. The company says that their “malicious extensions” are designed to scrape the user’s personal information, and user advertisement interest information, among others.

Most of the Internet bodies across the globe do not consider scrapping public information as a crime. In 2019, LinkedIn lost a case against HiQ Labs after the court ruled out that collected data was public on the Internet. In the case of Facebook, the two companies scrapped the information which was not inherently public which persuaded them to file the lawsuit against them. The social media platform is pursuing the scrapping issues seriously after the Cambridge Analytica Scandal which scrapped off millions of Facebook profiles ahead of the Presidential election in 2016. FTC imposed a USD 5 Billion fine on Facebook for violating users’ privacy.

It’s not for the first time Facebook is taking action against a company for scraping the information. Earlier this year, it “demanded” Clearview AI to stop using its social media networks for its controversial facial recognition interface. In March 2019, the company took action against Ukrainian developers for scraping the users’ data with the help of quizzes.  Meanwhile, it says that just filing lawsuits won’t solve the data scrapping uses. Facebook has invested in technical teams and tools to monitor suspicious activity or any unauthorized scrapping on its platform.