Facebook Comes Down Heavily On Sites Selling Instagram Likes And Followers

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The social media behemoth Facebook is imposing stringent actions over the data harvesting companies who were supposedly using automated software for selling Instagram likes, followers and web scraping Facebook’s private user data.

Yes, this week, Facebook has filed a lawsuit against MGP25 Cyberint Services in Spain and Massroot8 in the US. These companies were operating a website that traded Instagram likes, followers and collects sensitive information of Facebook user data like passwords and other personal stuff.

With over 2.6 billion monthly active users Facebook encompasses the vast, lucrative data of people, their interest, their behaviour online, and lots of other valuable input for data science and analytics purposes. Hence, Facebook falls prey to attacks by businesses that maliciously need the data of customer engagement online.

These lawsuits are not the first kind; Facebook is prosecuting the data piracy issues on its social platform. But are the ones that are just made recently. Earlier this month, Facebook indicted over 12 domains containing Facebook brands which were using the platform to trick Facebook users. After the data breaching scandal Facebook faced last year about Cambridge Analytica gaining inappropriate access to the private data of some 87 million Facebook users, the social media giant is taking severe steps to protect the privacy of its loyal user base. And, why not; it cost the social media giant a whopping $5 billion in fine.

So for the past twelve to fifteen months, Facebook has filed a lengthy list of litigations against various other data pirating websites and companies that are harvesting its user’s data.

Now let’s look into what these recent lawsuits imply.

About The Lawsuit Filed in Spain!

The company in Spain, MGP25 Cyberint Services, was unlawfully exchanging Instagram likes and comments. Facebook took this very seriously to protect its users and filed a lawsuit in Madrid. It is to note that this was the first of the kind cited in Madrid, Spain.

Today, Jessica Romero, Director of Platform Enforcement and Litigation, told the reporters that, the above said Spain company was developed to purposely straddle the fence of Instagram’s security features and unlawfully established a faux engagement by imitating the original Instagram app in precisely the same way it is connected to their systems. She also quotes that even after disabling their accounts and sending the Cease and Desist letters of communication to deter from doing such illegal activities, the defendant company was continuously practising the deliberate act for profit. 

Another Lawsuit in the United States

This is the second lawsuit the mighty player has filed recently. Facebook filed another lawsuit in a San Francisco court, in the US, against the proprietor of Massroot8.com, Mohammad Zaghar.

The above-said website was claiming that it just facilitates management of multiple Facebook accounts at the same time. But Facebook contends that Zaghar’s Massroot8.com service is intentionally designed to rip off users’ Facebook passwords during sign up and with that password, it is secretly scraping all the account details and friends details of the user from the network.

According to the court documents, Facebook refers to the said company that it was deliberately violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. This US law governs hacking offences by stealing user data from over 5500 Facebook accounts.

The owner of Massroot8.com also received a cease and desist letter from Facebook, and Zaghar’s accounts are permanently disabled. But Massroot8.com operations are not prohibited till this day, as quoted by Jessica Romero.

Facebook states that Zaghar before venturing into Massroot8.com, he was operating two other sites ” fast-likers.com and fast-autolikers.com.”  which was trading over Facebook’s likes and comments.

Next, let’s look into the curated list of lawsuits Facebook has filed since last year. All those were geared towards the app developers and website operators who have exploited the social media site to collect user data or pollute the platform with malware.

Month, YearDefendantsReason for Prosecution
March 2019Two Ukrainian browser extension makers (Gleb Sluchevsky and Andrey Gorbachov)For allegedly scraping user data.
May 2019RankWave, a South Korean companyThat stopped working on ad platform rules and declined to adopt with a Facebook audit.
August 2019LionMobi and JediMobitwo Android app developers on allegations of advertising click fraud.
October 2019Israeli surveillance vendor NSO GroupFor formulating and trading a WhatsApp zero-day, that was employed in May 2019 to strike against attorneys, journalists, human rights activists, political dissidents, diplomats, and government officials.
December 2019ILikeAd and two other Chinese nationalsFor using Facebook ads to trick users into downloading malware.
February 2020SDK makerThat secretly accumulated data on Facebook users.
March 2020Namecheap To unmask hackers who registered malicious domains mimicking Facebook brands.
April 2020LeadCloakA company that facilitated software to publicize scams related to COVID-19, pharmaceuticals, diet pills and more.

Looks like, after the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook learnt its lesson, albeit in a hard and expensive way. It’s quite evident that the social media giant is leaving no stone unturned to not only come down on such data harvesting websites heavily, but also aiming to win back the lost trust of internet users. According to another report released last year, Facebook is the least trusted internet platform despite having the largest user base on the internet.

It would be interesting to see how people are going to react to such moves being made by Facebook in the days to come.


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