Meta sues surveillance company for scraping user data with fake Facebook accounts
Voyage Labs has been intentionally surveilling public data
➡️ The Shortcut Skinny: Voyage Labs lawsuit
🔨 Meta has sued to block a data-scraping company from its platforms
🔎 Voyage Labs collects publicly available social media data for commercial use
🦶 But Meta wants to kick Voyage Labs off Facebook and Instagram
🚫 It’s taken out a lawsuit alleging the company has violated its terms of service
Meta is taking legal action against a company that allegedly created fake Facebook accounts to collect public user data for its own business and surveillance services.
Voyager Labs is a self-styled “world leader in advanced AI-based investigation solutions” that monitors and collects large troves of social media data to make behavioral predictions.
It lists government and law enforcement agencies, as well as private sector companies, among its clients, and a Guardian investigation in 2019 revealed it had partnered with the Los Angeles Police Department to surveil citizens and monitor potential threats.
Meta alleges Voyager Labs improperly collected data from Facebook, Instagram and other websites. According to CNBC, the legal filing alleges the company created over 38,000 fake Facebook accounts alone that scraped publicly posted information from more than 600,000 other, real users of the platform.
Meta says it disabled over 60,000 accounts associated with Voyager Labs and is seeking an injunction against it after it violated its terms of service. It’s also requesting the firm give up its “ill-gotten profits in an amount to be proven at trial”.
“Voyager developed and used proprietary software to launch scraping campaigns against Facebook and Instagram, and websites such as Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and Telegram,” Meta said.
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“Voyager designed its scraping software to use fake accounts to scrape data accessible to a user when logged into Facebook, including users’ profile information, posts, friends lists, photos and comments,” it added.
“Voyager used a diverse system of computers and networks in different countries to hide its activity, including when Meta subjected the fake accounts to verifications or checks. Voyager did not compromise Facebook, instead it used fake accounts to scrape publicly viewable information.”
Meta was made to settle a lawsuit itself last December, coughing up $725m million after it was alleged the tech giant illegally allowed consulting firm Cambridge Analytica and other third-party companies to access Facebook users’ personal data. A few weeks before that it laid off over 11,000 employees and CEO Mark Zuckerberg admitted he’d overestimated the company’s growth
It’s not only social media platforms that have to deal with fake accounts. Last year, Amazon filed a lawsuit against admins of more than 10,000 Facebook groups to combat fake product reviews. The groups offered money and other forms of compensation in exchange for positive, bogus Amazon reviews, tricking users into purchasing a supposedly five-star item and boosting the seller’s visibility on the platform.